Hunger-relief organizations are among the most supported types of nonprofits using DipJar. It’s always encouraging to hear how food banks, like Food Bank For New York City, provide support and sustenance for the populations they serve - and in the case of New York City, that population is large indeed, with an estimated 1.6 million New Yorkers currently facing food insecurity.
To learn about the organization, its mission, the services it provides, and the support it receives, we sat down with Brynne Balboa, Food Bank’s Direct Marketing Manager. Over the course of her career - which includes multiple hunger-related organizations - she has seen firsthand the impact hunger has on communities, large and small.
With a population of 8.3 million people, New York City - despite being recently recognized as the world’s wealthiest city - has far too many citizens experiencing hunger. Since it was founded in 1983, Food Bank For New York City has provided more than 1.2 billion nutritious meals across the five boroughs. It is the largest hunger-relief organization in the city and stands ready to serve every New Yorker.
It does so by powering an extensive Member Network of over 800 soup kitchens and food pantries across the five boroughs, providing its members with food, services, and the resources they need to serve their neighbors. Food Bank also maintains its own Community Kitchen & Food Pantry in West Harlem, as well as a massive food warehouse and distribution center in the Bronx.
In 2021, Food Bank For New York City and its partner organizations provided 121 million meals to New Yorkers in need. Currently, Brynne told us they provide about 1,500 meals per day. “I feel so honored to do this work and support this mission,” she said. In partnership with the city’s schools, Food Bank manages Campus Pantries at 67 schools across the five boroughs, which serve nighttime and weekend food items and other essentials to students and their families.
As has been the case with so many non-profit organizations, the pandemic changed and expanded the profile of those needing assistance. “In 2020, as so many people lost their jobs, they turned to our partners and us for help,” said Brynne. “You see everyone - mothers, fathers, neighbors, aunts and uncles, grandparents – hunger can impact anyone.”
Food Bank For New York City goes beyond direct food assistance. It helps agencies set up SNAP and EBT benefits for clients. It offers free tax filing services through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which has helped put more than $1 billion back into the pockets of low-income New Yorkers. Food Bank also runs a number of campaigns to engage the community throughout the year, including:
- Woman-to-Woman, in March, which is focused on the distribution of menstrual care products and hygiene essentials
- Summer Hunger, a fundraising effort to raise awareness about childhood hunger during the summer months
- Hunger Action Month, which Food Bank uses as a rallying point for the community in the month of September
- 40 Million Meals, which runs in November and December, and, this year, aims to raise 40 Million Meals by the end of December
To understand how well the various programs are meeting the needs of the city, Food Bank For New York City has a data team that does a deep analysis of the communities being served.
As one might imagine, feeding New York City is a costly endeavor, and the community has demonstrated its support for the organization again and again. “We are so fortunate to have the generous support of individual donors, corporate and institutional funding, as well as a number of grants,” said Brynne, “The support doesn’t just come from New York City, though - we see it coming from across the country and around the world.”
By Food Bank’s calculation, one donor dollar is able to provide as many as five meals. Matching funds by generous partners and donors allow the organization to leverage and extend contributions - in some cases by as much as five times!
“We saw a large increase in donors and donor dollars during the pandemic,” explained Brynne. “One of our key focus areas for fundraising is retaining those donors - and keeping them engaged with our work and our community.”
Beyond direct cash donations, Food Bank also hosts a number of events throughout the year. Those have only recently returned to in-person, and Brynne says the expectation for the events has evolved. Now, they are doing more intimate events at restaurants and other venues across the city. But that doesn’t mean large events are off the table, so to speak. The 40th-anniversary celebration is planned for the spring and is going to be a big deal.
This past spring, Food Bank partnered with Shape Magazine and Health to sponsor the SHAPE Women’s Half Marathon, which attracted thousands of runners in support of Food Bank. DipJars on site helped to raise the equivalent of 3,750 meals!
DipJar has also played a role in supporting Food Bank For New York City. “I love DipJar,” said Brynne, “wherever we are visible, we bring our DipJars.”
Since Food Bank started using DipJar in 2018, the devices have been used to raise more than $100,000. When events were in full swing, the DipJars helped to raise between $10,000-15,000 per year.
DipJar is proud that our technology is being used to make a difference in the lives of so many New Yorkers. Feeding a city of 8.3 million people is a huge undertaking, and we’re happy to play a small part.
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