Though NYCCAH operates over 1,200 soup kitchens and food pantries, it goes beyond emergency assistance by helping low-income New Yorkers develop greater long-term economic self-sufficiency.
New York City Coalition Against Hunger
2006 Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Award Winner
50 Broad Street, Suite 1520
New York, NY 10004
Phone: (212) 825-0028
Email: [email protected]
People often equate the terms “hungry” and “unemployed.” In reality, a growing number of working people are ending up at soup kitchens and food pantries because their income doesn’t stretch past rent, utilities and transportation to cover the cost of food. In New York City in 2006, one in seven residents didn’t know where his or her next meal was coming from and demand for emergency food services was on the rise even as feeding resources were declining. It is not only the homeless or the unemployed who are facing hunger. A record number of the working poor and their children are finding themselves with empty cabinets and emptier stomachs. The New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH) is there to help.
According to Joel Berg, Executive Director of NYCCAH, “The fastest-growing populations at these agencies are working people and children.” The public has been desensitized by the myth that most food bank and soup kitchen clients are lazy and undeserving. Berg considers the “lack of respect for poor people” to be one of the greatest challenge in the fight against hunger and poverty.
NYCCAH is an umbrella group for New York City’s more than 1,200 soup kitchens and food pantries, most of which are small, faith-based, under-funded and volunteer-staffed. NYCCAH provides free technical assistance in advocacy and communications, benefits outreach and leadership development. NYCCAH goes beyond helping these agencies meet immediate food needs by focusing on developing greater long-term economic self-sufficiency, with the goal of helping more than one million low-income, food-insecure New Yorkers move “beyond the soup kitchen.”
The New York City Coalition Against Hunger was a 2006 winner of the Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Award (HCSRA) administered by WhyHunger. The award was used to aid in the planning and implementation of the Farm Fresh Food Security, Nutrition Improvement and Community Empowerment Project in West Harlem and two other low-income New York City communities. This innovative effort is enabling community emergency food providers to increase both the amount of fresh produce they can offer to their clients and the income of regional small farmers, with a particular emphasis on new and minority farmers, all while promoting collective responses that stress individual self-sufficiency and community empowerment.
When asked where he sees NYCCAH in five years, Berg simply said, “In a perfect world…we would cease to exist.” He did stress “perfect world,” but perhaps this goal can be met if organizations understand and act upon the respect for poor peoples’ dignity, self-sufficiency and government accountability like NYCCAH does.
To meet more people and organizations growing the movement for access to healthy, nutritious food, click through the WhyHunger Storytelling project.