On a daily basis we are inundated with news and information from all over the world. My morning paper, evening news, and daily smartphone alerts are primarily focused on the United States’ political climate, natural disasters, violence, and other harrowing stories of people in need. Our newsfeed can seem to create a barrier between us and those we could help. I often feel it seems that those most in need are furthest from our reach. Yet it is important to remember how much work there is to be done right outside our own doors.
Prior to joining the Corporate Social Responsibility team at Proskauer this spring, I spent three years working in fundraising and development at Citymeals on Wheels. While the projects I worked on varied, I always took pride in knowing that my work supported Citymeals’ mission of providing nutritious meals to homebound seniors in need. People are often surprised by the scale of Citymeals’ work. The organization delivers to more than 18,000 elderly New Yorkers, resulting in over 2 million meals every year. And while these numbers are truly staggering, Citymeals’ recipients only account for a small percentage of New Yorkers who face the growing struggles of food insecurity.
Often one’s mental picture of “hunger” is the homeless man or woman sitting on the sidewalk or asking for aid in the subway. Therefore, “hunger” and “homelessness” are seemingly interchangeable, but this misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Today, homelessness in New York City is at its highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Over the course of 2017, nearly 130,000 individuals slept in a city shelter, 45,000 of whom were children. And yet the homeless population only accounts for 10% of those struggling with hunger and food security. More than 1.2 million New Yorkers face hunger every year. To put that into perspective: the number of food-insecure individuals in NYC is larger than the whole population of cities like Dallas or San Diego.
The numbers can be daunting, however there are so many ways we can combat this problem that no one should ever feel helpless in their desire to make a difference. As a Firm, we partner with organizations across the country that work on the frontlines of the fight against hunger. By working with local non-profit organizations, we know that our volunteers will have the most effective impact. Our local non-profit partners are well versed in the specific needs of their communities and able to offer proven solutions (both temporary and permanent) to those that they serve. Last year Proskauer volunteers served more than 3,200 meals in seven major cities across the globe. The Firm partnered with the Bowery Mission in New York, Goodwill Rescue Mission in New Jersey, Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington D.C., Rosie’s Place is Boston, Ozanam Inn in New Orleans, PATH Cooks in Los Angeles, and The Soup Kitchen in London – to name a few.
For those looking to give back, there are many fantastic organizations that are in need of volunteers. In NYC alone, individuals passionate about ending hunger can sign up with organizations like the Bowery Mission, City Harvest, Citymeals on Wheels, Food Bank for New York City, God’s Love We Deliver, among others.
Although the need is great, so is the support. Each year, hunger organizations enlist the help of hundreds of thousands of volunteers to rescue millions of pounds of food, and serve hundreds of millions of meals. Just one experience of serving food at a shelter or delivering meals to the elderly can show you the magnitude of your impact. I encourage everyone, whether you are first-time volunteer or regular supporter, to help bring a meal to a neighbor in need, and find for yourself how fulfilling and impactful the experience can be.