Lantern Community Services: NYC Food Based Community Organization Spotlight

by Alexina Cather, MPH

What they do: Lantern Community Services provides innovative services within 14 supportive housing residences to help New Yorkers who are formerly homeless or have recently aged out of foster care recreate their lives. Their programs have proven results in health, employment, education and life skills and are delivered inside their residences and tailored to each person’s needs. Their nutrition program is designed to provide their very low-income residents with quality, fresh produce and improve their health.

How they do it: Lantern delivers comprehensive services for the residents of 14 supportive housing sites in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Upper Manhattan. Many of Lantern’s clients live with mental illness, addiction, disability, HIV or other chronic illnesses and our teams of experienced social workers and program specialists deliver programming directly within each apartment building, providing our clients with the tools they need to integrate successfully into the greater community with dignity and independence.

Mission: Lantern Community Services champions the independence and well-being of New Yorkers who are impacted by or threatened with homelessness.

Latest project/campaign: Lantern Community Services is one of just 33 organizations nationally to receive a 2016 Community Food Project grant from the US Department of Agriculture. USDA selected projects that will “foster self-sustaining solutions that help make healthy foods available to families living in low-income neighborhoods.” Our grant will fund research and development of our Food 4 Life nutrition curriculum for young adults. This nutrition, budgeting and cooking program is specifically designed for Lantern’s young adults, who overuse costly and unhealthy prepared food, often go hungry, and face a future of food insecurity and poor nutrition. USDA’s grant means we can spend a year designing, testing and refining the curriculum in partnership with our young adults, turning it into a robust, evidence-informed resource that can be shared with other supportive housing providers across the country.

Major Funding: Lantern Community Services partners with over 50 government, academic and nonprofit agencies in our communities, to ensure our clients receive high quality services and our staff are fully trained and supported. Notable partners include: NYC Departments of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), and the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH); New York Community Trust, Robin Hood Foundation and the Van Ameringen Foundation; the Corporation for Supportive Housing; and New York University, Dartmouth University and the University of Minnesota.

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual budget: $16,000,000

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: Lantern’s dedicated Nutrition & Culinary Arts program offers our clients the resources they need to access, prepare, and enjoy nutritious food – a cornerstone of physical health and a good quality of life. Through cooking, learning, and sharing meals together, our clients benefit from a true sense of home, health, and community. In the past year, they’ve distributed over 25 tons of free, fresh produce to our low-income, formerly homeless residents through our Fresh Food Box program with Greenmarket Co., and they run cooking classes, gardening programs, communal meals, and provide access to food benefits and nutrition counseling.


Location: Manhattan

Core Programs: To promote our clients’ well-being and independence, we deliver services in four core areas: (1) health and wellness; (2) nutrition and culinary arts, including Fresh Food Box and Food 4 Life; (3) employment and educational services; and (4) arts, culture, and fitness.

Number of staff: 120

Number of volunteers: 10

Areas served:

  • Bronx
  • Brooklyn
  • Manhattan

Date started: 1996

Director: Laura Lazarus

Contact information 398-3073

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