Image via: Natalie Amrossi (@misshattan), Cover Image via: Freshness Mag

Image via: Natalie Amrossi (@misshattan), Cover Image via: Freshness Mag

As the world adjusts with the unexpected changes that COVID-19 has thrust upon us, the United States, specifically New York, has now become the epicenter of the pandemic. With government mandated closures of nonessential small businesses that include mom and pop shops and boutiques, many are struggling to make a living. While restaurants have been allowed to stay open for delivery and takeout, many have completely shuttered their doors with social distancing in place and costs way too high. The ones that have stayed open are risking their lives to pay bills, provide for their families, employees and the community.

Freshness was established in New York in 2003 by Dan Hwang from Queens and Yu-Ming Wu from Brooklyn and has been a part of the community for close to two decades. I was born and raised in Queens myself and have never seen the streets so empty or so many businesses shuttered. New York's hustle and grit has always been built on the backs and shoulders of small businesses and their owners, they need us more than ever.

Many of our peers started their clothing labels and businesses here in the Big Apple and New York's food scene is one of the most diverse and influential in the world. We don't want to see any of them disappear forever. As a small business ourselves, we want to do what we can to help our fellow New Yorkers. That's why we urge our readers to support local small businesses and creatives in any way they can during these vulnerable times.

We've compiled a list of local New York shops and brands below that we believe in and that need your help. Many of these stores are having sales just to help alleviate escalating costs and some are donating profits to relief efforts. We've excluded large corporations and brands that receive funding from a larger investment group because they most likely can survive these times while the little guys can't.

MADE IN NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY

NEW YORK BRANCH LOCATIONS

In terms of restaurants, the entire food and beverage industry is struggling and has asked for a government bailout. While it's impossible to support each and every one of them, we do ask that you try to help out Chinatown and your local spots. The xenophobia has hit longtime New York establishments in Chinatown the hardest. Also, please remember to tip your delivery person generously, they are working because they have to and are taking on immense dangers.

Two of our previous Freshness Eats locations, 886 and Madame Vo are tackling the situation at hand in various ways. 886 originally started offering bento (takeout) boxes for pickup and has since been donating the bentos to hospitals and medical facilities with the help and funding of generous donors from around the world. Madame Vo has kept its doors open for delivery/takeout and started a pho challenge on their Instagram account, #TogetherPhoLife, to bring the community together while everyone is cooking at home. They are also taking donations for meals towards hospital workers and volunteers. Check in with your local spots to see if they're doing the same thing and how you can help. Eater has also put together a list of restaurants selling merchandise to help support their employees.

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Together we can make a difference. The #NewYorkStrong mentality is one that every single person in this great city shares. This virus doesn't discriminate based on age, race or gender so please do not let xenophobia or racism get the better of you. It is already a trying and stressful time for everyone so try to be the light in these dark times. If you are able to, and looking to donate to charities during this time, here are some places vetted by The New York Times which include an official WHO COVID-19 fund and official CDC fund. In order to avoid the spread of misinformation, stay up to date with official news from resources like:

Lastly, we owe our gratitude and thanks to every single person that is out there risking their life to save ours in these times. The men and women in medical services, pharmacies, scientists looking for a cure, grocery store employees, those doing deliveries, cleaning and transporting us are true heroes. We can all get through this crisis like we do with every other crisis this city has faced. Stay home, stay safe by practicing good hygiene and cleanliness, and stay healthy everyone. While this was a letter of love and support for my city, you can do the same wherever you are in the world. It's just Nike says, "Play Inside, play for the world."

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#SupportNYFresh #SupportLocal

Produced by: Dan Hwang