2020 was a tough year for many New Yorkers, especially those who experienced some degree of food insecurity. City Harvest was among the many organizations that stepped up to feed New York City, partnering with the #GiveHealthy Movement in February 2020 to provide fresh, healthy food to families and households in need. Through this partnership, City Harvest was able to provide New Yorkers with more than 150,000 pounds of healthy food valued at more than $200,000. The partnership has recently released a case study of their work that can be read here.
#GiveHealthy is a nation-wide movement to improve the quality and nutritional value of food donated to food drives. We’re all familiar with the traditional food drive, to which we give canned vegetables, boxes of pasta, and other non-perishable foods. But these foods are often highly processed and less nutritious than fresh produce, lean proteins, and dairy. Food insecure communities tend to have higher rates of diet-related diseases such as type-2 diabetes and obesity. With #GiveHealthy, organizations (such as businesses, faith based organizations, schools, non-profits, government and civic organizations) can organize virtual food drives that accept fresh, healthy foods, in addition to non-perishables.
These virtual fresh food drives are not difficult to organize: #GiveHealthy will set up a webpage for the drive, which has information for donors including the types of fresh food that are most requested by pantries, and information about how to purchase those foods. The drive’s organizer will share the webpage with everyone they want to participate. On the webpage, donors will find a link to the #GiveHealthy Digital Food Drive Platform, which they can use to purchase specific food items requested by the target pantry or food bank with a standard e-commerce transaction. Once the drive is complete, #GiveHealthy will transport all of the food purchased by donors and deliver it to the pantries and food banks that requested it. The platform is owned and operated by Amp Your Good, a founding partner of the #GiveHealthy movement.
The City Harvest #GiveHealthy partnership was responsible for 127 food drives during the year, 58 of which were sponsored by organizations that had never organized a City Harvest food drive before.They raised an average of 1,148 pounds of food each, compared to only 493 pounds raised by traditional food drives, and focused on providing fresh fruits and vegetables rather than non-perishables (donors still can bring non-perishables to these drives, but most pantries request fresh foods). Furthermore, use of the Digital Food Drive Platform ensured that 100 percent of the donations fit the needs of the pantries who received them.
Nine-nine percent of the 3,404 unique donors had never given to a City Harvest drive before, and they overwhelmingly preferred to give fresh rather than canned food. By partnering with City Harvest, #GiveHealthy attracted a wider range of donors and introduced many New Yorkers to a healthier and more sustainable way to donate food. An important aspect of the movement is to educate people about what foods they should donate, and why fresh food is so important.
City Harvest expects to continue the partnership into 2021.