Each year, an abundance of canned foods and non-perishable items goes to people in need thanks, in part, to Pleasant Plains resident Joe Delaney.

Delaney is the man behind the “Bread of Life” Food Drive. The annual collection takes place in 131 schools across Staten Island and in 280 cities nationwide.

“Tapping into the spirit of people who want to help their neighbors,” he said as he prepared for the annual collection. “Neighbor helping neighbor.”

What You Need To Know

  • Joe Delaney is the organizer of the annual Bread of Life food drive

  • Now in its 32nd year, the drive has collected more than two million non-perishable items for people in need

  • Delaney runs the drive through the University of Notre Dame's Staten Island alumni club. He never attended the school

It started in 1992 when the president of the University of Notre Dame put out a call for acts of service to mark the school’s 150th anniversary.

The Staten Island alumni club held a food drive that spring. They collected 5,000 items.

Delaney was stunned at what the nonprofits told him when they returned to thank him.

“They said people never make donations of food to food pantries in the spring,” he recalled. “They always do it at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah at year’s end.”

So Delaney’s team did it again the following spring and the spring after that.

They’ve since collected more than two million non-perishable items to go to more than two dozen nonprofits on Staten Island.

“People are always looking at times, if it’s presented to them, the right opportunity, to give back in their community,” Delaney said.

When Notre Dame’s football coach got wind of Delaney’s team in 2013, he got his alumni players to launch their own drives in collaboration.

Delaney runs the drive through Notre Dame’s alumni club. He has served on the university’s alumni board.

He is a lifelong Fighting Irish fan. But there is one twist in this story.

“I explained to them, ‘Check your records. I didn’t go to school here.’ And they said, ‘Nobody better represents the values of Notre Dame than you.’”

So for fighting hunger alongside his “adopted” Fighting Irish, Joe Delaney is our New Yorker of the Week.