Ariadna Phillips was close to panicking. It was nearing midnight in the Bronx, and she was scrambling to find food for an older woman in the neighborhood who was going hungry after deliveries of federal food aid had run out.

For the past few weeks, Ms. Phillips, 40, who organizes a mutual aid group in the South Bronx, had been working frantically to gather enough food donations for those left in the lurch after a federal program stopped temporarily at the start of the year, and then again, a few weeks later, when it ran into logistical problems.

A year ago, as the pandemic engulfed New York, mutual aid groups like hers quickly formed as stopgaps meant to help tide people over during the worst of the crisis.

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