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5 Food-Focused Organizations to Support in NYC

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at New School chapter.

New York City was home to over 23,000 restaurants in 2019. But during the pandemic, thousands of those eateries were forced to shutter their doors, and over 1,000 restaurants went out of business. For a city that swells with culinary culture and history, a large portion of its inhabitants are food insecure, and the pandemic certainly increased that number. Close to 1.5 million New Yorkers struggled to feed themselves last year, and they will continue to feel those effects well into 2021. 

As the city starts to see an increase in dining out with lessening up of COVID restrictions and warmer weather, it’s important to keep in mind those who are unable to dine out with friends. Whether you’re in the city and want to donate your time to a good cause or are able to give some of your extra pocket money to someone in need, check out the five organizations below who are working to put food on every New Yorker’s table. If you have an hour or an entire weekend afternoon, your time will go to good use. No effort is too small—especially when we’re lending a hand to our neighbors in need. 

skyline of New York at night
Photo by Luca Bravo from Unsplash

City Harvest

Back in the 1980s, City Harvest noticed that a large portion of the city’s population had a hard time feeding themselves and their families despite the immense amount of food in all five boroughs. The organization partners with restaurants in the city to deliver extra meals and ingredients to those who were unable to shop for groceries that week. They consider themselves “food rescuers” who help New Yorkers gain access to nutritious food and strengthen the local food system in hopes of turning NYC into a food secure city one day. 


Canal Cafeteria

Canal Cafeteria began feeding New Yorkers during the pandemic with their CSA-style produce bags from local farms who had some extra produce going to no use. The organization operates solely on donations and volunteers from local businesses and people in the Lower East Side. Canal Cafeteria works out of a part of the city many New Schoolers call home—the LES—so consider donating your time today!


Harlem Grown 

Since 2011, Harlem Grown has been working to educate youth in Harlem about urban farming, nutrition and sustainability. Harlem Grown currently operates 12 urban farming systems from hydroponic greenhouses to school gardens. During the pandemic they’ve been working with local businesses to feed hot, nutritious meals to families living in shelters. Pandemic or not, this is a great nonprofit to support. Harlem Grown hopes to fill the abandoned lots in Harlem with greens and produce that the community can put to good use.



BK ROT is New York City’s first-ever bike-powered composting service. Whether you’re looking to buy compost to fertilize your plant babies or want to get rid of your food scraps, support BK ROT! They’re a Brooklyn-based organization powered by BIPOC youth. Through their efforts, they hope to raise “the next generation of environmental and climate justice leaders who will shape our city.” Check them out on Sundays in Bushwick if you’re looking to learn more about urban composting.


Send Chinatown Love

Send Chinatown Love is another organization that grew out of the pandemic. A number of small businesses in Chinatown were forced to close their doors (many had to do it permanently) in March 2020, but many could not receive relief from the government because of immigrant discrimination laws. Send Chinatown Love supports businesses in need by putting the money they receive right back into the neighborhood. Chinatowns across the nation need support right now, so consider gifting a meal through SCL. 



Claudia Langella is a Literary Studies major at Lang and is the Chapter Leader of HCTNS. When she's not writing, it's likely you'll find her in the kitchen or taking long walks in the city.