A new report from City Harvest, New York City’s largest food rescue organization, found that child hunger and food insecurity remains 55% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
The report revealed that City Harvest and its partners served approximately 525,000 children each month at the start of 2022, and additionally highlighted how millions of NYC families are still struggling to pay for food due to rising food costs and the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout 2021, City Harvest and its partners served almost 7.7 million children – a breathtaking 96% increase compared to 2019 and the highest number City Harvest has ever recorded.
Additionally, 1 in 4 NYC children do not know where their next meal will come from, according to an analysis of Feeding America data, and as summer break quickly approaches, many of these children who depend on school meals won’t have access to regular, nutritious meals.
“As summer nears, families across New York City are struggling amid surging prices for food, rent, and other necessities — all at a time when free school lunch will be harder to access,” said Jilly Stephens, CEO of City Harvest in a statement on May 9. “For 20 years, Share Lunch Fight Hunger has helped feed the 1 in 4 New York City children who are facing food insecurity. City Harvest will always be here to feed our neighbors in need — one day, one meal, one New Yorker at a time.”
Families of color, immigrant families and families led by single mothers are at the highest risk of food insecurity – which is only exacerbated during the summer months when school meals are not available.
This year, City Harvest aims to deliver 100 million pounds of fresh and nutritious foods and deliver it free of charge to over 400 food pantries, soup kitchens, community partners and its Mobile Markets across the city to help families struggling to feed themselves.
“I have been coming to this Mobile Market for a few months to get food for my family of five,” said Mirna, a Brooklyn resident waiting in line at City Harvest’s Bed-Stuy Mobile Market. “I have three children and this food helps my family a lot. Everyone in my family except my youngest daughter got Covid. My husband did not work for around six months, and I don’t have work, so we are still struggling.”
City Harvest also launched its 20th annual Share Lunch Fight Hunger campaign on Monday, which encourages able New Yorkers to donate the money they would normally spend on lunch to help feed over 15,000 children and their families for the entire summer.
Those interested in donating to a fundraiser team, starting their own fundraising team or just making a general donation can visit the Share Lunch Fight Hunger website to participate.