City Harvest, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is New York City’s largest food rescue organization. City Harvest feeds the more than 1.2 million New Yorkers who are food-insecure. In 2018, City Harvest aims to rescue 61 million pounds of food and deliver it, free of charge, to hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens and other community partners across the five boroughs. Their food programs help food-insecure New Yorkers access food that fits their needs, increase their partners’ capacity, and strengthen the local food system.
- 1 History
- 2 Impact
- 3 Food Council
- 4 Food Rescue Facility
- 5 Food security programs
- 5.1 Relieving food insecurity
- 5.2 Providing nutrition education and inspiring healthy choices
- 5.3 Increasing access to affordable, healthy food
- 6 Advocacy
- 7 Events
- 8 Honors
- 9 References
Founded in 1982, City Harvest is the world’s first food rescue organization. Its founders included Helen VerDuin Palit and Harley Brooke-Hitching (founding chair) and Peter Schmidt (founding Board Member). To date, the organization has rescued and delivered more than 600 million pounds of food. The operation utilizes 22 trucks (including 2 tractor trailers), 160 staff members, thousands of volunteers, a Food Rescue Facility, and the support of many food and financial donors. Fresh fruits and vegetables comprised more than half of the rescued food.
Refrigerated City Harvest trucks deliver fresh produce to community food programs throughout New York City.
City Harvest collects excess food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries, Greenmarkets, corporate cafeterias, manufacturers, and farms. The food is then delivered without charge to community food programs throughout New York City. Food delivered by City Harvest is received by about 1 million residents.
City Harvest’s Food Council, which helps the organization by donating food, raising funds and heightening visibility, has more than 70 members. Founding Food Council members include: Eric Ripert, Dana Cowin, Michael Lomonaco, Danny Meyer, Drew Nieporent, Tracy Nieporent, and Gus Theodoro. The Food Council has since expanded to include Ron Ben-Israel, David Chang, Tom Colicchio, Marc Murphy, Marcus Samuelsson, Gail Simmons, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Food Rescue Facility
In December 2011, City Harvest opened its 45,400 square foot Food Rescue Facility in Long Island City, Queens. The Facility includes a large cooler and freezer to safely hold perishable food on a short-term basis and a large dry storage area to sort non-perishable goods. Each morning, City Harvest’s fleet of trucks are loaded with food at the facility before picking up and delivering food to community food programs.
Food security programs
Since 2006, the Healthy Neighborhoods initiative has expanded access to healthy produce and has offered nutrition education to residents. These programs target high-need communities throughout the five boroughs.
Relieving food insecurity
Emergency Food: City Harvest delivers over 10 million pounds of food (60% of which is produce) each year to emergency food programs located within designated Healthy Neighborhoods. Soup kitchens and food pantries are then able to offer participants a variety of healthy food.
Mobile Markets: In 2005, City Harvest began holding two, free farmers’ market-style distributions in low-income communities each month. The operation now includes nine Mobile Markets – two per borough – each month, distributing approximately three million pounds of fresh produce a year. In the fiscal year of 2013, these markets delivered roughly one million pounds of produce to 50,000 residents. In addition, these markets sometimes include on-site cooking demonstrations.
ACE: Through the Agency Capacity Expansion (ACE) program, City Harvest offers grants for one-time projects to selected emergency food programs to upgrade facilities and services. In addition, City Harvest University’s courses teach agencies core skill sets.
A City Harvest volunteer leads a Healthy Neighborhoods workshop on how to buy produce on a budget.
Providing nutrition education and inspiring healthy choices
Nutrition Education Courses: City Harvest provides free nutrition education classes for adults, families, teenagers, and senior citizens at participating community organizations, which teach the skills needed to prepare healthy meals.
Cooking Demonstrations: The staff and volunteers of City Harvest demonstrate healthy cooking recipes and techniques at senior centers, supermarkets, corner stores, health clinics, and other community hubs.
Shopping Workshops: Developed by Share Our Strength, Cooking Matters workshops educate all age groups on how to develop and maintain a healthy diet. City Harvest teaches customers how to find affordable, healthy foods within their supermarket.
Well Seasoned: City Harvest uses a nutrition education curriculum to work with low-income seniors.
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Increasing access to affordable, healthy food
City Harvest partners with community residents, organizations, after-school programs, and businesses to promote nutritious eating options.
Healthy Supermarkets and Corner Stores: City Harvest helps neighborhood retailers increase the quantity, quality and variety of produce. In addition, City Harvest hosts healthy cooking demonstrations and budget shopping workshops. The efforts seek to improve communication between shop owners and clientele.
Community Networks: To build public support for healthy food outlets and sustain change over time, City Harvest convenes Community Action Networks (CANS) in each of its Healthy Neighborhoods. These networks engage residents and retailers who are committed to improving access to healthy food.
City Harvest advocates at the city, state and federal level for programs, policies and actions to change the conditions that result in food insecurity and hunger. City Harvest also provides low-income New Yorkers with access to federal nutrition programs and regional food supplies.
City Harvest’s Executive Director Jilly Stephens (center) at an event with members of the Food Council.
To help raise funds, City Harvest hosts annual events such as the City Harvest Gala, Summer in the City, and BID. Events often include restaurant tastings, introductions to top chefs, and auction prizes.
2013: https://inhabitat.com/nyc/city-harvest-is-looking-for-volunteers-for-their-upcoming-queens-bridge-mobile-produce-market-team/ (DMANF) named City Harvest the Nonprofit Organization of the Year.
2011: In The New York Times Company’s annual Nonprofit Excellence Awards, City Harvest was awarded the Silver Prize for Excellent Management.
2010: Executive Director Jilly Stephens was honored at the Annual Spirit of ABNY (Association for a Better New York) awards as a select New Yorker who has provided a distinguished level of service to New York City.
2009: The Robin Hood Foundation awarded a $400,000 grant to City Harvest based on the efficiency of City Harvest’s unique food rescue model.
2008: Charity Navigator awarded City Harvest with 4 stars in their charity ranking system.
1989: City Harvest founder Helen verDuin Palit received a presidential citation for a private sector initiative from President George Bush, as part of his 1,000 Points of Light program.