Idelsa Mendez at Mott Haven Bar

Idelsa Méndez’s love for Hostos and the Bronx runs deep and fuels much of her professional and personal endeavors—whether it’s working tirelessly to raise support for student scholarships as a Development Manager in Hostos’ Division of Institutional Advancement (DIA), or championing local entrepreneurs and establishments. So when the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to exacerbate food insecurity for many of the College’s students and overwhelm healthcare workers in the area, it is no surprise that the Hostos alumna immediately went to work collaborating with local organizations and businesses to help the people in her beloved intersecting communities.

Soon after a pandemic was declared in March, Méndez connected with two local organizations, who wish to remain anonymous, to facilitate the donation and delivery of over 750 pounds of nonperishable food for the College’s food pantry. She also secured the donation of two boxes of reusable bags from the new Food Bazaar located in the Bronx Terminal Market for students to use when picking up food from the campus resource. Additionally, in late April Méndez secured $5,000 in gift cards from the supermarket to supplement the food pantry’s offerings.

“Right now, during these difficult times things are changing so fast, we just wanted to assist in meeting our students’ basic needs,” she said. “We just want to make sure our pantry is full so we can address the food insecurity our students and their families are facing. When they come to our pantry they are not only able to provide for themselves but for their families too.”
Knowing many people may not have the means to prepare a home-cooked meal, Méndez volunteered with the Bronx Community Relief Effort, a local initiative aimed at supporting on-the-ground operations focused on meeting the most essential needs of the Bronx community during the COVID-19 crisis. Through this effort, she worked to facilitate a partnership with Bronx native and acclaimed chef Kwame Onwuachi and Mott Haven Bar and Grill to cook free meals for Hostos students. This effort builds on the partnership that Mott Haven Bar and Grill had established with World Central Kitchen and the Bronx Private Industry Council several weeks before. Chef Kwame’s dishes were made available to students of the sister colleges throughout most of the month of April.

“We are very grateful for the continued support of our partners and especially now when a lot of our students are facing food insecurity,” shared Méndez.

Méndez has also been instrumental in procuring important Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for essential workers in the Hostos community. Working with The Food Bazaar and the Bronx Terminal Market, she helped collect 100 KN95 masks for Hostos’ essential workers. Méndez also facilitated a connection between the supermarket branch and hospital, after which the former donated thousands of more masks to the latter.
“As a community, we just did that which is organic in our human nature,” she said. “Moments like these define us all. I couldn’t be prouder of the company we keep and the partnership we’ve developed.”

Hats off to Méndez and all who have supported Hostos and our community during these difficult times. We thank you.