Poor New Yorkers aren’t just food-deprived. Many are facing multiple other challenges that are negatively impacting their lives.
On Wednesday, we spent the morning at West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH) and had the opportunity to get to know a few of our struggling neighbors. People like Ana, an aging grandmother who is caring for her son and his newborn infant, and Leta, a single mother who is helping her son pay his community college loans, but recently found herself unemployed due to a medical emergency. We also met Jessina, a 19 year-old high school graduate struggling to find a job and in desperate need of medical insurance to see a primary care doctor. And, many young parents who missed a rent payment and are now are evicted from their rent stabilized apartment.
WSCAH is not just providing individuals and families with healthy foods, they are attacking poverty by providing free legal, financial, medical and benefits counseling to help with these issues. They do this by partnering with other Robin Hood-funded organizations like Neighborhood Trust, Single Stop, the Children’s Aid Society and Urban Justice.
WSCAH boasts the city’s original, and, perhaps most successful, customer choice pantry with a strong integrated social services component. WSCAH screens all families for benefits before they pick up groceries at the pantry, an important intake routine that other pantries around the city are striving to replicate.
What brought these families into the church basement was food, but because of the smart and innovative partnerships, they leave with so much more.