Consistent access to nutritious food is critical for the physical and mental wellbeing of New Yorkers, but increasing rates of food insecurity following the COVID-19 pandemic have left many vulnerable communities seeking support. Since 2019, visits to food pantries and soup kitchens in NYC are up 69%, and this year alone, due in large part to inflation and the rising cost of food, such visits have increased by 14% since January.
To help mitigate the health disparities caused by food insecurity, which can vary from the development of chronic illnesses to behavioral challenges for children, it’s vital to ensure New Yorkers have consistent access to nutritious food options. Food insecurity sits at the intersection of the economy and health, a reality more prevalent than ever as communities gather to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. Countless organizations, including the three highlighted below, are working diligently to increase food access and provide adequate nutrition for New Yorkers across the state.
Since 1982, Brooklyn-based St. John’s Bread and Life has addressed the needs of individuals and families living in the Bedford Stuyvesant and surrounding communities through its emergency food programs and case management services as well as providing wraparound services such as medical, legal and tax support, and learning opportunities for guests. A grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation provided funding to sustain Bread and Life’s Brooklyn Emergency Food Hub and Mobile Marketplace program expansion, by supporting salaries for staff and the purchase of emergency food.
Meals on Main Street uses food to build a caring and supportive community that works together. One way it fosters community is through a Foundation-funded partnership with Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison, which allows formerly and currently incarcerated people to serve meals from their mobile food pantry to community members in need. The organization’s impact has grown considerably since the pandemic, preparing daily meals and delivering groceries for over 2,000 families a month in Port Chester, NY, and surrounding neighborhoods.
New York Common Pantry had nearly 600,000 visits and provided New York City residents with more than 9 million healthy meals in 2022. To expand its reach, the Foundation granted $1 million to support its Mobile Pantry Program that focuses on culturally appropriate healthy food options. The program reduces food insecurity by bringing food closer to families and removing barriers to accessing food pantries, such as transportation costs.
Many factors can lead to food insecurity, and despite anyone’s circumstance, serving residents with compassion and respect is key. In this season of gratitude and giving, the Foundation would like to reiterate our support and thanks for food service organizations in meeting the diverse needs of New Yorkers this holiday season.
To learn more about these organizations or how you can support them, please see the respective websites below: