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Mayor Bloomberg Launches NYC Service Program to Strategically Deploy Groups of Volunteers to Help Food Programs Serve More New Yorkers in Need During the Holiday Season and Year-Round


With Needs Assessment of 100 Food Programs, Volunteers will be Directed Based on Skill Set to fill Specific Needs at Food Programs 

One of 40 Initiatives of NYC Service, the Mayor’s Comprehensive Initiative to Increase Volunteer Service and Utilize the Power of Volunteers in NYC

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the Food Bank For New York City today launched an NYC Service initiative – “Adopt a Food Program” – to match groups of volunteers with food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the five boroughs to increase the effectiveness of these critical organizations and the number of New Yorkers in need served this year.  Food programs in New York City traditionally receive an influx of volunteers throughout the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, but too often some programs receive more volunteers than they can manage and others do not receive enough volunteers or volunteers with the skill sets to meet specific areas of need.  The Food Bank For New York City is conducting a needs assessment of 100 New York City food programs and teams of volunteers will be directed to the appropriate locations to ensure the capacity of each food program is maximized.  Additionally, many food programs struggle to recruit and maintain volunteers throughout the rest of the year.  The program will build sustainable support for food pantries and soup kitchens, so they can provide more services year-round.  New Yorkers can volunteer in groups, working as a team with their coworkers, school, social group or group of any kind, or they can volunteer as an individual.  Volunteers will sign an agreement to “adopt” a food program, where they can commit to serving for six, nine or twelve months as a team.  The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford, Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar and President and CEO of the Food Bank For New York City Dr. Lucy Cabrera.

“With the holiday season approaching, we have an outstanding opportunity to take NYC Service to the next level,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We are encouraging groups of caring New Yorkers – businesses, schools, and clubs, in particular – to come forward and ‘adopt’ a food program. We’ll match your group to a food program that needs your help.  Individuals can also sign up.  The city’s food programs are a critical part of our safety net, and NYC Service is going to make them stronger.”

“Helping New Yorkers in need is a primary mission of NYC Service,” said Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford.  “This program, represents a unique way for teams of volunteers to use their ‘blank’ to help the city’s food programs serve even more New Yorkers in need.  We are looking for groups and individuals with a wide range of skills, from grant writing and marketing to repair work and graphic design. And by encouraging commitments of six to twelve months, we will ensure food programs get the help they need year-round, not just during the holiday season.”

“Food pantries and soup kitchens are an important part of the City’s efforts to help the most needy. We greatly appreciate the contribution made by thousands of New Yorkers who volunteer to work in these important community based organizations,” said Human Resources Administration Commissioner Doar.

“The importance of volunteers to soup kitchens and food pantries across the city cannot be over-estimated,” said Dr. Lucy Cabrera, President and CEO of the Food Bank For New York City. “People who are on the front lines fighting hunger need support in their efforts to assist New Yorkers in need. We are very proud to partner with the Mayor and NYC Service to connect talented New Yorkers with organizations struggling to meet growing demand and to develop their capacity to serve, support and empower the New Yorkers that rely on them.”       

Groups of New Yorkers and individuals interested in helping to feed neighbors in need can “adopt” a food program by calling 311 or going to www.nyc.gov.

Many food programs require volunteer support beyond the traditional food delivery and service often associated with aiding food programs.  Volunteers will be recruited to assist in grant writing, marketing, fundraising, food stamp outreach, painting, repair work, web design, graphic design and other needs.  The program will seek volunteers with the needed professional skills and the ability to offer frequent and consistent support.

Those interested in participating in the program can submit a volunteer interest form, which will provide program managers with each volunteer’s availability, geographical preferences, and any skills that might be of use to a food program.  Program participants will be asked to attend an orientation session, hosted by the Food Bank For New York City, where participants will learn more about what food pantries do and their value to communities.  Participating food programs will attend similar orientation sessions to learn more about sustaining long-term volunteer commitments through this program.  To solidify “adoption” of a food program, participants will be asked to sign an agreement committing them to their chosen length of service at their food program.

Following the orientation, volunteers will meet with the designated volunteer liaison at their adopted food program to discuss program needs and their ability to fill those needs over the duration of their commitment.  All volunteers that will be in contact with children must be willing to undergo background checks.  

About NYC Service

NYC Service was launched by Mayor Bloomberg in April 2009 to meet his State of the City pledge for New York City to lead the nation in answering President Obama’s national call to volunteerism. The program has three core goals: channel the power of volunteers to address the impacts of the current economic downturn, make New York City the easiest city in America in which to serve, and ensure every young person in New York City is taught about civic engagement and has an opportunity to serve. NYC Service aims to drive volunteer resources to six impact areas where New York City’s needs are greatest: strengthening communities, helping neighbors in need, education, health, emergency preparedness and the environment. New Yorkers can find opportunities to serve their communities by visiting www.nyc.gov or by calling 311.

About Food Bank For New York City

For 26 years, the Food Bank for New York City has been a major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs.  The Food Bank works to increase access to affordable, nutritious food for low-income New Yorkers through a range of programs and services that focus on food sourcing and distribution, education and nutrition, financial empowerment, disaster relief and policy and research. The Food Bank For New York City sources and distributes food to a network of approximately 1,000 food assistance programs citywide, helping to provide 300,000 free meals a day to New Yorkers in need. Every dollar donated to the Food Bank helps provide five meals to New Yorkers in need. For more information about the Food Bank For New York City, visit www.foodbanknyc.org. 

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