A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action

Anti-Hunger Advocacy and Program Development

Last Revised: Mar 15, 2011 - Initial Posting: Sep 12, 2005
Purpose

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger works to meet the immediate food needs of low-income New Yorkers while enacting innovative solutions to help them move "beyond the soup kitchen" toward greater economic self-sufficiency.

Description

New York City Coalition Against Hunger
The New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH) represents the more than 1,200 charitable soup kitchens and food pantries in New York City, as well as the over one million low-income New Yorkers forced to rely on these agencies to feed themselves and their families.  The Coalition helps agencies to build their capacities and expand their programming; advocate for improved governmental and economic policies that address the underlying causes of hunger; ensure that low-income families receive the government nutrition and tax benefits to which they are entitled; harmonize and coordinate services with each other; and develop the next generation of neighborhood anti-hunger and anti-poverty leaders.


Overview of NYCCAH Website

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH) represents the more than 1,200 charitable soup kitchens and food pantries in New York City, as well as the over one million low-income New Yorkers forced to rely on these agencies to feed themselves and their families.  The Coalition helps agencies to build their capacities and expand their programming; advocate for improved governmental and economic policies that address the underlying causes of hunger; ensure that low-income families receive the government nutrition and tax benefits to which they are entitled; harmonize and coordinate services with each other; and develop the next generation of neighborhood anti-hunger and anti-poverty leaders.

NYCCAH Annual Hunger Survey 2009NYCCAH conducts an annual survey of food pantries/soup kitchens/brown bag programs to determine the extent and causes of hunger in New York City.  Questions also include topics related to the internal needs of pantries and kitchens.  Survey results are presented in a variety of NYCCAH publications.

NYCCAH programs are dedicated to reversing the disturbing trends by helping these agencies obtain more food, staff, volunteer and funding resources and by addressing the root causes of this increasing hunger and poverty.  NYCCAH has three distinct programs to help soup kitchens and food pantries move families "beyond the soup kitchen" - in turn shortening your lines, gathering resources for you and helping you make a greater impact in your community:

  • The Emergency Food Action Center (EFAC) provides free workshops and trainings to feeding programs. EFAC also manages NYCCAH's Americorps*VISTA Initiative, providing full-time paid volunteers to build the capacity of feeding programs citywide.  A two-week VISTA Orientation Process is conducted prior to each volunteer's placement and professional development workshops are held weekly.  Although placed in separate organizations, NYCCAH VISTA's relate to each other as a team through group training and peer-to-peer support.  This approach helps VISTA participants develop the professional and networking skills necessary to take on future management roles in nonprofit groups and neighborhood initiatives.
  • Farm Fresh Initiative – Healthy, organic, fresh vegetables are made accessible to low-income neighborhoods through a weekly distribution of fresh foods to neighborhood soup kitchens and food pantries and a mixed-income Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that accepts food stamps and offers a variety of personalized payment options. Emergency Food Program Starter Kit
  • On-line features and publications to assist feeding programs, helping them to increase fundraising and donations, recruit volunteers and professionalize their operations, including an Emergency Food Program Starter Kit on how to start a soup kitchen or food pantry.
  • Technology Project bringing computer technology and training to those that need it most.
  • Benefits Access helps feeding programs navigate the web of government assistance for their clients.  By providing access to benefits like Food Stamps, the WIC program and the Earned Income Tax Credit, NYCCAH helps feeding programs impact the lives of more clients, and move more families "off the line" into economic self-sufficiency.

NYCCAH also manages a Volunteer Matching Center that places hundreds of volunteers at kitchens and pantries to help meet basic needs such as stocking shelves and serving customers.  The Coalition also recruits long-term, professionally skilled volunteers to help kitchens and pantries perform tasks essential to their program development, such as fundraising, computer skills training, graphic design, and accounting.  An enhanced electronic volunteer tracking and matching system is in the process of development through pro bono support from the Taproot Foundation.  This will be linked with information on organizational needs obtained through the annual survey of food pantries and soup kitchens.

The Coalition helps individuals in need of food for themselves or their family through access to a database of food relief organizations by zip code.  Materials are also made available on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) published by the Community Service Society of New York (CSSNY) and other governmental benefit programs published by CSSNY's Benefits Plus Learning Center.  NYCCAH is also working to create a Customer Advisory Council to build greater consumer involvement and leadership with anti-hunger efforts.

A number of Communications Initiatives have been established by NCCAH to increase public awareness and support to fight hunger such as including:

NYCCAH is one of the lead organizations of Feed the Solution involving a partnership with Episcopal Charities, Cathedral Community Cares, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and FoodChange to:

  • Assist Emergency Food Providers (EFP's) in providing Beyond Emergency Services that lead to empowerment of feeding program guests
  • Help program staff, volunteers, guests and congregations advocate for social and economic policies that offer sustainable solutions to hunger
  • Lead the way in transforming the way feeding programs address hunger by encouraging the shift from "feed the hungry" to "feed the hungry and take the next step to address the root causes of hunger and poverty"
Outcomes

A range of achievements and awards are featured on the NYCCAH web site.

Here are examples of recent NYCCAH accomplishments as found in the 2007 NYCCAH Annual Report:

  • NYCCAH’s policy and outreach work has played a key role in increasing Food Stamp Program participation in the City by 319,890 people between January 2002 and August 2007. As a result, low-income New Yorkers will receive at least $500 million more in federal nutrition assistance support this year than in 2001.
  • NYCCAH Annual Report 2007The Farm Fresh pilot program – hosted in West Harlem from May to October 2007– distributed a total of over 13,000 pounds of fresh produce, exceeding program expectations.
  • Interfaith Voices Against Hunger Feed the Solution leadership has successfully persuaded key government officials to create a pioneering in classroom, universal school breakfast pilot project in 20 public schools.
  • As a result of consistent and persistent communication of the urgent needs of the 1.3 million people without enough food in New York City, NYCCAH was highlighted in a total of 102 press venues in 2007 – including 40 international, 12 national and 50 local placements.
  • The Volunteer Matching Center annually connects highly-skilled volunteers with agencies in need of direct assistance. These professional volunteers help agencies build their capacity, create new programs, strengthen existing programs, and introduce new and innovative methods to help their clients move towards self-sufficiency, and ensure long-term organizational sustainability. The Coalition Against Hunger’s Volunteer Program also places over 700 volunteers at soup kitchens and food pantries to help meet basic needs such as stocking shelves and serving customers.
  • NYCCAH recruited over 250 volunteers, the majority of whom were from New York City corporations and law firms, for the fourth annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Serve-A-Thon event in January 2007.
  • AmeriCorps State members recruited, trained or supervised over 560 volunteers that completed 4,003 total hours of service.
  • VISTA participants: recruited over 450 unpaid volunteers; obtained $533,172 in funding for pantries and kitchens; and organized networks of pantries and kitchens in 10 different neighborhoods, enabling agencies to harmonize their hours of operation, coordinate their services; and conduct joint projects.
  • Craig Murphey Fellowship Fund to support a fellowship program focused on anti-hunger, community-based work. Each year, a Craig Murphey fellow will carry on Craig’s commitment to community action by facilitating collaborative advocacy and local action among West Harlem emergency food programs while working to build a citywide consortium of self-sustaining, grassroots anti-hunger neighborhood networks. The fellow will also work to coordinate a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in West Harlem that connects low-income community members to fresh, affordable produce from upstate farms
Contact

Joel Berg,
212.825.0028