New York City, home to an enormous number of supermarkets and restaurants, has 2.9 million residents who experience difficulty in affording food. Throughout the five boroughs, 1.4 million people—mainly women, children, seniors, the working poor and people with disabilities—rely on soup kitchens and food pantries to get the food they need. And with food costs on the rise and unemployment still high, food pantries and soup kitchens across the city are seeing longer lines.
To address this need, the Food Bank For NYC, the largest food bank in the country, secures and distributes food via truck to a network of more than 1,000 community-based member programs citywide, including food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers and schools, helping provide 400,000 free meals a day for New Yorkers in need.
But while the immediate need is to provide meals to hungry individuals, the leadership of the Food Bank recognizes that it’s important to provide longer-term solutions to food poverty. So the Food Bank offers nutrition education programming that reaches more than 35,000 children, teens and adults, as well as income support services connecting New Yorkers to food stamp benefits and tax credits for the working poor.
Bank of America has supported the Food Bank since 2008, both through grants and with thousands of employee volunteer hours. Since then, the bank has funded the food bank more than $500,000 for general operating support, with an addition $25,000 a year since 2011 going to food pantries in each borough that are seeing a significant uptick in demand, or are implementing innovative new programs. Volunteers from the bank are active at the Food Bank’s central food warehouse and distribution center at the Hunts Point Cooperative Market and the Community Kitchen and Pantry in Harlem. Last year, over 300 Bank of America employees volunteered at the warehouse and the Harlem Kitchen, repacking 17,000 pounds of food, providing 13,000 meals.
Victoria Godfrey is a Harlem resident who has turned to the Food Bank for meals and nutritional counseling. She used to buy mostly junk food, she said, which exacerbated a medical condition. Now, she says, “I’ve learned to eat the way they say, and also pay attention to portion size. So instead of going to the corner store, I’ll go to the market for fresh fruits and vegetables. I also bring food to my neighbors who are embarrassed to come here or are housebound.”
According to Lisa Hines-Johnson, the Chief Operating Officer of the Food Bank, “This fight against poverty takes a lot of resources, passion and commitment. Bank of America has been a supporter of the Food Bank for New York City for many years and, in that time, the support they have provided to us has been tremendous. For every dollar that’s donated to the food bank we’re able to provide five meals—an impressive number. Having Bank of America stick with us through tough times has been incredibly important to us.”
Jeff Barker, Bank of America’s New York City Market President, said, “We partnered with the food bank because we saw a critical need. Together, we’re committed to eradicating food poverty and food insecurity in New York. We can only be successful as a bank if the communities that we serve are successful, and we don’t believe that sustained prosperity can be met until issues like hunger are addressed.”
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