NYC food charities need volunteers to meet growing demand

At a time when food insecurity is growing throughout New York City, soup kitchens have been and continue to step up to make sure no New Yorker goes hungry, especially this holiday season.

"At the beginning of this pandemic, we would serve about 250 people at any meal," Bowery Mission CEO James Winans said. "We saw those numbers balloon over 500 at a meal." 

With Thanksgiving around the corner, The Bowery Mission and City Harvest are calling on volunteers to help out during this difficult time.

"This year, we have been seeing about a third of the typical number of volunteers," Winans said.

The Bowery Mission will be hosting its 141st Thanksgiving celebration this year but things will look a lot different. Instead of the usual sit-down dinner, hot meals will be served in a to-go box. A few tables will be set up outdoors. But to get ready for the big day, Bowery needs volunteers to help package the meals.

"What we really need is for people to come out and serve with us in the next few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving," Winans said.

City Harvest also needs volunteers.

"We've definitely seen during this time a shift in our volunteer base," City Harvest's Nicole Harrison said. "City Harvest and many of our partners rely oftentimes on seniors." 

City Harvest has ramped up its operations since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, and is on track to deliver 109 million pounds of food, which is significantly more than ever before.

"Last year we rescued 66 million pounds of food," Harrison said.

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Even though City Harvest has faced challenges, lack of volunteers and supplies for the kitchens and food pantries it partners with, its annual Repack to Give Back holiday initiative will not be canceled.

"We will kick off on Monday, November 16th," Harrison said. "We will have the re-packers at our warehouse packing 200,000 pounds of produce and nonperishable items."

City Harvest will also be distributing nearly 14,000 turkeys to 400 soup kitchens and food pantries across New York City.

Find out how to either volunteer or donate here: