In 2017, America’s farms accounted for $132.8 billion, or 1%, of the total value of goods produced and services provided within the country1. Such significant contributions would, at first glance, indicate that our food system is healthy. That farmers are fairly compensated for their work and Americans, of all tax brackets, have access to enough food to sustain themselves and their families.
But, according to a recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture2, farmers have seen an 8.09% decrease in household income between 2013 and 2018 and more than 40-million Americans lack the financial resources to purchase “nutritionally adequate” food for their family3.
This crisis has extended from the board rooms of big agriculture to rural American farms, and into the Five Boroughs. Of the 8.623 million people who live in New York City, more than 1.2 million are food insecure4, meaning they are unable to purchase food for themselves or their family.
While the city has implemented food assistance programs like the New York City Food Assistance Collaborative to improve access to the food supply in underserved communities, this does not address the root causes of food insecurity and hunger. To do that, New Yorkers who want to fight food insecurity will need to support organizations who help vulnerable city residents find sustainable employment, earn a living wage, live in safe, affordable housing, and identify ways to reduce food wastage within the city limits5.
Fight the Root Causes of Food Insecurity in NYC
Support Social Justice Organizations Who Help Communities Break the Cycle of Poverty
Poverty represents a significant roadblock in the pursuit of food security for many New York City residents, 19.5% of whom live below the poverty line6. Without fair wages, truly affordable housing, access to education, and, in some cases, the destruction of systemic roadblocks they will have a hard time matching the level of opportunity and privilege as wealthy New Yorkers. These three social justice organizations are working to help break the cycle of poverty and, in turn, fight food insecurity.
Open Society Foundations
Open Society holds governments accountable to their constituents, fighting for fairness in political, legal, and economic systems in order to ensure equal rights for all. In New York City, the organization, among other initiatives, is advocating for affordable medicines and health care that is available to all.
It’s no secret that health insurance in America has become a financial obstacle course7 that prevents the poor and middle class from receiving necessary care. Millions of people in recent years have been vaulted into poverty for seeking treatment. By standing with Open Society, you can help your fellow New Yorkers get the care they deserve, reduce healthcare costs, and lift them out of poverty.
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
The New York Civil Liberties Union defends civil liberties in New York state, promoting equality, and due process for all New Yorkers. Currently, the organization is battling for fair labor rights for farmworkers in New York State.
Due to a change in New York’s labor laws, farmworkers are not allowed to engage in collective bargaining, and they’re excluded from rights to overtime pay, a day of rest per week, and workers compensation for workplace injuries. The fatality rate for farmworkers is also 20 times higher than that of an average worker. To improve food security in New York, stand with the NYCLU for fair labor rights.
Correctional Association of New York (CANY)
The Correctional Association of New York helps provide independent oversight of New York’s prisons. They are fighting against the mass incarceration of African Americans and people of color and creating a platform to help educate and rehabilitate people in prison, so that they may re-enter society.
Low-income, New York City residents of color have a much higher risk of being pulled into the criminal justice system8. Once someone has been pulled into the criminal justice system, they are facing an uphill battle to find employment and break the cycle of poverty. CANY’s programs help fight against the criminalization of poverty and provide formerly incarcerated New Yorker’s with the ability to become financially independent.
Advocate for a More Accessible and Sustainable Food System in New York City
In 2017, The New York Times reported that the city threw away 14-million tons of waste each year, costing the city $400-million annually9. Beyond the cost to the city, much of the food that is thrown away is due to appearance quality standards held by supermarkets and restaurants. These two organizations are taking the food New Yorkers throw away, and are using it to provide food security.
Rescuing Leftover Cuisine
Rescuing Leftover Cuisine saves meals that would be otherwise thrown away and uses it to feed the hungry. The organization has rescued over 3.1 million pounds of food and served over 2.5 million meals to the hungry10.
Volunteers help transport food from the organization’s donor partners to homeless shelters, and each volunteer event typically takes less than an hour.
City Harvest was founded back in 1982 and helped start the food rescue movement. The organization saves roughly 61-million pounds of food a year and distributes that food to local shelters, food pantries, and soup kitchens11.
Those interested in volunteering for City Harvest can get involved with one of their Mobile Markets. These events occur 18-times a month and help distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved communities around New York City.
By working with these organizations, New Yorkers can fight the root causes of food insecurity in New York City, helping their fellow community members provide for themselves and their families. If you’re interested in upcoming volunteer opportunities, events, and community involvement, subscribe to the NYXT monthly newsletter.
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