According to a City Harvest report, about 3.5 million people visited food pantries monthly in 2022, a 69% increase from 2019. But Jilly Stephens, the CEO of City Harvest, told Errol Louis on “Inside City Hall” Wednesday that food insecurity throughout the five boroughs existed before the pandemic hit.

“Far too many of our neighbors have really struggled to put food on the table for many years and that’s why City Harvest and many organizations like us to keep food moving,” she said.

Stephens mentioned that there’s a “critical role” that the government can play when it comes to food insecurity.

“We certainly learned during the pandemic, some programs really help people. So we really want to encourage government to reinstate or pass certain policies where we were able to see significant benefits,” she said.