During a recent trip to New York City, Per Diems Against Poverty co-founders, Brittany Hodak and Jennifer Barker, had the opportunity to visit another member of Feeding America’s network of food banks, The Food Bank For New York City. We relish these opportunities to learn more about each individual food bank’s identity- their history, their unique meal programs, and the impact they are having on lives of the people living in the communities they serve. The Food Bank For NYC’s mission is no more or less vital than other food banks; however, the burden they bear may be even heavier than many others around the country. The Food Bank has been in operation for more than 30 years, serving the five boroughs of New York City, which alone inhabit 8.1 million people. Astonishingly, 2.6 million of those New Yorkers are food insecure, and 1.4 million- that’s 1 in 5- New Yorkers compared to 1 in 7 nationwide average- relies on The Food Bank and other resources in order to feed themselves.
Although that’s a tall order, The Food Bank and their generous supporters do not waiver in pursuit of their mission. They continue to show compassion and a steadfast determination to end hunger in New York City, despite the fact their food insecurity in still on the rise. Their 90,000 square feet warehouse distributes more than 74 million pounds of food every year through their network of over 1,000 charities and schools citywide, which provides 64 million meals per year. At first, when we heard these numbers, we were encouraged to hear about their tremendous success and efficiency. Afterall, this incredible organization is feeding millions of people in their community. While that’s true, this large amount of food is not nearly enough to feed the increasing incidence of hunger in the lives of families living in The City.
The Food Bank recognizes this increasing demand for food assistance among New Yorkers; therefore, it is also trying to help families on a more personal level by developing Nutrition Education Programs through a partnership with New York City Public Schools. So far, these programs have empowered more than 275,000 children, teens, and their families to make positive changes in their diets and financial situations. They offer cooking classes, meal planning, and nutrition courses, which help families better manage their budgets by teaching them how to eat healthy in a way that is also cost effective. These programs are relatively new, but given the enthusiasm and feedback The Food Bank has received thus far, they are optimistic that programs like this once can and will help reduce the incidence of hunger among New Yorkers in the future.
We are continually humbled by the reception we receive when visiting these local food banks, and The Food Bank For New York City was no exception. Each individual worker or volunteer we encounter cares so deeply about their communities and the people they serve. They are confronted by shockingly high statistics of hunger and food insecurity on a daily basis, yet they remain hopeful and optimistic that together, we can end hunger in America. We agree that while hunger is a HUGE problem in America,we believe there is a solution. Finding it; however, will take everyone contributing his or her ideas in order to solve it. We at Per Diems Against Poverty are interested in hearing any ideas you might have to help fight hunger in your community. Join the conversation and share your ideas at PerDiems.org.