Addressing Hunger and Homelessness in New York City
Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week is commemorated on November 12-20 this year. New York City is experiencing unprecedented levels of food insecurity, with hunger impacting an estimated 1.5 million New Yorkers last year. Visits to New York City food pantries and soup kitchens are up 69% in 2022 compared to 2019—and up 14% just since January 2022 when inflation costs began sending food prices soaring. The pandemic, combined with inflation and the war in Ukraine has made it challenging for many people to afford enough food. And food scarcity increases anxiety and depression.
S:US is deeply committed to ensuring an equitable, participatory food system by supporting the food security of the people we serve and elevating their voices and power within the food system work. By food security, we mean universal access to adequate nutritious, affordable, and culturally/personally appropriate food. Food security encompasses more than just access. Being food secure means having food available, having access to that available food, having that access and availability be stable over time, and having the tools and knowledge to use the food to meet nutritional, dietary, cultural, and personal or household needs.
As an organization advancing social justice, S:US is at the forefront of both hunger and homelessness. This year we served over 2 million meals in our programs and sites, and we grew over 9,000 pounds of fresh produce through our Urban Farms initiative (equivalent to about 7,500 meals with an estimated market value of $45,000). Our social justice action framework is anchored in our commitment to address food insecurity and hunger. S:US Urban Farms functions as an innovative supplement to the supports we offer to the individuals and families we serve, using horticulture as a tool in improving wellness outcomes and in helping our clients to achieve their personal and professional goals.
S:US works with communities and individuals in all corners of the city to make sure every New Yorker has the chance to find a home. We drive scalable solutions to transform the lives of people with disabilities, people in poverty, and people facing homelessness: solutions that contribute to righting societal imbalances. In the midst of rising food insecurity during the pandemic, we began organizing to help those experiencing hunger and ultimately settled on the community fridges project to support the communities we live and work in.
We’ve opened community fridges at some of our residences managed by people supported with disabilities (read our press release here, and media coverage here and here). They ensure that the fridges are continuously stocked thanks to an overwhelming response from the community and by new partnerships formed and being developed as a direct result of our efforts.