1 in 4 NYC Children Don’t Know Where Their Next Meal is Coming From 

New York, NY – City Harvest, New York City’s first and largest food rescue organization, today launched its annual Share Lunch Fight Hunger campaign (May 9–June 3), inviting New Yorkers to donate money they would normally spend on lunch to help feed more than 15,000 New York City children and families for the entire summer – a time when access to free school lunches may be limited. 

Watch a video on how Share Lunch Fight Hunger helps a food pantry in Queens serve the growing number of New York families relying on it. 

City Harvest also unveiled a new report today that finds the number of people who are experiencing food insecurity in New York City remains at a record high. The Feeding New York City’s Children Beyond the Pandemic report reveals that City Harvest and its partners served about 525,000 children a month at the start of 2022 — a massive 55% increase over the pre-pandemic normal — and highlights how millions of New York City families are still reeling from rising food costs and the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling to access the food they need. 

Additional findings include: 

  • In 2021, City Harvest and its partners served almost 7.7 million children – a staggering 96% increase compared to 2019 and the highest number City Harvest has ever recorded. 
  • In May 2021, City Harvest and its partners served 778,000 New York City children  – far more than double a typical month pre-pandemic. 
  • City Harvest also recently found 88% of food pantry users with children expect rising food costs will force them to rely on food pantries more often this year. 

Additionally, 1 in 4 New York City children do not know where their next meal will come from, according to an analysis of Feeding America data. As the summer break approaches, these findings highlight how the threat of hunger  continues – and could grow as thousands of New York families struggle with rising prices for food, rent, and other necessities  

Families of color, immigrant families, and families led by single mothers are at the highest risk of experiencing food insecurity, especially during the summer months. The Share Lunch Fight Hunger campaign aims to raise awareness and crucial funds to help feed families experiencing food insecurity and prevent even more New Yorkers from going hungry. 

“As summer nears, families across New York City are struggling amid surging prices for food, rent, and other necessities — all at a time when free school lunch will be harder to access,” said Jilly Stephens, CEO of City Harvest. “For 20 years, Share Lunch Fight Hunger has helped feed the 1 in 4 New York City children who are facing food insecurity. City Harvest will always be here to feed our neighbors in need — one day, one meal, one New Yorker at a time.” 

The report can be found here. Photos and video footage of City Harvest can be found here

Founded 20 years ago by Dana Cowin, then Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine magazine and current City Harvest Food Council member, Share Lunch Fight Hunger has brought together hundreds of individuals and corporations in New York City to raise dollars to help feed families experiencing food insecurity during the summer months. Since its inception, Share Lunch Fight Hunger has raised enough to help provide 37.5 million meals to New York City families who are struggling to put food on the table.  

“When I founded Share Lunch Fight Hunger 20 years ago, I wanted to show that even a little bit of help can add up to a lot of food for New York City kids,” said Dana Cowin. Founder of Speaking Broadly, former Editor-in-Chief Food & Wine magazine, and a member of City Harvest’s Food Council. “Two decades later, we’ve put more than 37 million meals on the tables of New York families. When we feed the youngest New Yorkers, every dollar of support matters.” 

New Yorkers who want to take part in the Share Lunch Fight Hunger campaign can visit here to donate to a fundraising team, start their own fundraising team, or make a general donation.  

On Saturday, May 21, Dominique Ansel Bakery will donate 10% of the sales of its famous Cronut®, which will celebrate its 9th birthday that weekend.  

Shake Shack is also offering a free burger to everyone who donates $45 or more online to Share Lunch Fight Hunger. Anyone who donates at the $150+ level receive their free Shake Shack burger and also be entered into a raffle for a chance to win two (2) roundtrip JetBlue tickets plus a Lo & Sons Weekender Bag set.  

This year, City Harvest aims to rescue 100 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food and deliver it – free of charge – to nearly 400 food pantries, soup kitchens, community partners, and its Mobile Markets across the five boroughs. Many of the vital government supports that helped lift families out of poverty have expired, leaving tens of millions of families struggling as the economy continues to sputter.  

“I have been coming to this Mobile Market for a few months to get food for my family of five,” sb

This year’s Share Lunch Fight Hunger is sponsored by BlackRock, Citi, Experience Interaction, TF Cornerstone, Wafra Inc., KPMG, and PIX11. This year’s co-chairs are Dana Cowin, Gail Simmons, Marc Granetz, Michael F. Burke, Donatella Arpaia Stewart, Maki Hattori, Dominique Ansel, Emilia Bechrakis Serhant, David Chubak, Judy Joo, Simon Kim. Zoe Elghanayan, Nadine Mirchandani, Katie Workman, and Ashish Bhutani. 

About City Harvest 

City Harvest is New York’s first and largest food rescue organization, helping to feed millions of New Yorkers who struggle to put meals on their tables. As the city emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will rescue more than 100 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food and deliver it—free of charge—to nearly 400 food pantries, soup kitchens, community partners, and our own Mobile Markets across the five boroughs. We work alongside our community partners to boost community capacity, expand nutrition education, and strengthen local food systems. For more than 35 years, City Harvest has always been there to feed our city—one day, one meal, one New Yorker at a time. To learn more, please visit cityharvest.org.