How can I help fight food waste in Manhattan?

While some look to Manhattan as a culinary hub, brimming with top notch chef’s offering fine food, others know the city as a food wasteland. Poorer areas lack access to affordable, nutritious food. The good news is people are working to make healthy foods more available, and you can help.

"According to Food Bank For New York City 1 in 5 New Yorkers rely on some form of food aid."

Sharing Goodness

Members of the Metro Baptist Church (MBC) at 410 W. 40th St. set out to help the food insecure by turning kiddie pools into garden plots located on its roof. The Hell's Kitchen Farm Project grows basil, beans, blueberries, radishes, rosemary and more. Volunteers harvest the produce and then share the fresh grown veggies and fruit with those in need via the church pantry.

“Even in a city like New York there is opportunity to grow food,” says MBC executive director Tiffany Triplett Henkel. “We have a vision that potentially there could be other farms in our neighborhood.” 

Volunteer Thursdays and Saturdays 10 am - 1 p.m.

City Harvest volunteers pick up excess food from restaurants, grocers, wholesalers and set up Mobile Markets to deliver food to neighborhoods in need. The rescued food is available free to anyone who live in the zip code of five the group’s Healthy Neighborhood locations. Sign up to fight hunger at

"Production of wasted food generates 3.3 billion tons of green house gasses per year." -United Nations report

You can also take your compost to one of the 40 Grow NYC collection sites set up at GreenMarkets throughout Manhattan. Food makes up about 17% of the city’s waste, the organization states. Find a location where you can drop off household food scraps for composting near you at Greenmarket volunteers help with at-market promotions like cooking demonstrations, farmer support, and community outreach.

Grow NYC also supports community food gardens throughout the city. Manhattan locations include: Harlem and East Harlem, Governors Island, Lower East Side, Murray Hill, Randall’s Island, Tribeca, and Washington Heights. 

"The average New Yorker pays $48.56 for dinner — per person, and eats dinner out 2.7 times a week" —  Zagat.

Waste Not

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine addresses food waste and hunger in NYC by collecting excess foods donated by food providers and delivering them to people in need. According to the U.S.D.A. 40% of food in America gets tossed every year. At the same time, roughly 1 in 7 Americans were food insecure in 2014, per the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“It’s an incredibly valuable resource, making use of something that would otherwise be thrown in the garbage. So, we’re incredibly grateful to have this boost to our food budget,” says Martin Bowman, supervisor of the NYC Rescue Mission. “It provides a critical solution to a serious problem.”

A rescue session with RLC typically lasts 30 minutes and on average collects 50 pounds of food — enough to feed about 40 people.

Freegans are another group actively seek to lower their consumptive impact on the urban environment. According to the EPA 33 million tons of food wind up in American landfills each year. With events such as the Freegan Feast or by inviting community members along to food rescue trips that reclaims food and other products left out for disposal by city retailers. 

Learn more about the food waste issue across the globe from the perspective of author Tristram Stuart in this NYXT original video:

Food Waste

You can make a difference helping feed the hungry. If you need food assistance, find listings for food pantries or soup kitchens in New York City.


Download the Guide to NYC Community Involvement

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