This Organization Uses Advocacy and Policy to Improve Food for New Yorkers

by Gabrielle Khalife
Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: Community Food Advocates

What they do: Community Food Advocates, Inc. (CFA) is an economic justice-based policy and advocacy organization working to strengthen food and income support for low-income New Yorkers. Through a combination of innovative advocacy strategies incorporating in-depth policy analysis, knowledge of program operations, coalition-building, organizing and community engagement, their goal is to strengthen publicly-funded food and income programs and to maximize participation. CFA’s work focuses on the following programs: school lunch, summer meals, school breakfast, SNAP, cash assistance, and WIC.

How they do it:

1. Learn 4 Learning: In 2013, CFA launched the Lunch 4 Learning Campaign to bring Universal Free School Lunch (USL) to all NYC public schools. USL eliminates the decades-long poverty stigma of participating in school lunch and directly results in more children eating, which in turn reduces undernutrition and leads to better health, wellbeing and more positive educational outcomes. School lunch is now free for all 1.1 million NYC public school students. Learn more about the Free School Lunch for All Program.

2. Good Food Purchasing: In partnership with The Food Chain Workers Alliance, the City University of New York (CUNY) Urban Food Policy Institute, the Center for Good Food Purchasing, and local affiliated organizations, CFA is working to encourage NYC to adopt a good food purchasing program. The Good Food Purchasing Campaign encourages large institutions to direct their buying power toward five core values – local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutrition.

3. Youth Organizing: The Youth Food Advocates (YFA) is a youth group based at Community Food Advocates. Its goal is to support young people aged 13 to 19 in learning about food justice and policy advocacy as a way to create deep and meaningful change in the systems that impact young people in NYC (for example: schools, food systems, etc.). Young people work in a fun and collaborative environment with their peers from across the City to develop leadership skills, public speaking skills, and other skills critical to create change. Click here to learn more.

4. Food & Gentrification: To help minimize the impact gentrification has on food access and minimize food insecurity, CFA is beginning to work with the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and other key partners to establish policies and strategies that:

  • Ensure good quality food is available, affordable, and accessible to all residents
  • Promote the financial ability of long-term residents to stay in a neighborhood and retain a sense of belonging
  • Protect, preserve and support food-related community institutions

5. Summer Meals: The federal Summer Meals Program provides free breakfast and lunch to all children under the age of 19 when school is not in session. Although this program has existed in NYC for several decades, with meals offered at schools and other neighborhood locations, the program continues to be largely underutilized. In NYC, there are approximately one million children from low-income families. However this program reaches only 15 percent of those children each year. During the school year, and particularly during the summer months, CFA partners with other advocates and the Department of Education’s Office of SchoolFood to maximize participation and ensure that the program meets community needs. Specifically, this partnership focuses on conducting outreach to parents and families in the five boroughs, identifying gaps in services as well as additional Summer Meals sites in neighborhoods where there is a high need for the program.

6. Reports & Resources: Community Food Advocates conducts its own research and analysis on the ever-evolving issues that New Yorkers face, aiming to be an important source of information for food policies impacting communities. Click here for their reports.

Mission: With the belief that access to healthy and nutritious food is a basic income and food equity issue essential to the quality of life for all New Yorkers, Community Food Advocates uses advocacy, organizing, and coalition-building grounded in solid policy and budget analysis to improve New Yorkers’ ​access to food.​

Latest project/campaign: Community Food Advocates spearheaded the Lunch 4 Learning Campaign advocating for universal free school lunch for all NYC public school students. Learn more about the Free School Lunch for All Program.

Major Funding: Foundation grants and individual donations

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $412,000

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect the food system: Members of Community Food Advocates have collectively more than a century (129 years) of experience fighting for food and economic justice.



Community Food Advocates

110 Wall Street

New York, NY 10005

Core Programs:

  • Lunch 4 Learning
  • Good Food Purchasing
  • Youth Organizing
  • Food & Gentrification
  • Summer Meals

Number of staff: 8

Areas served: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens

Year Started: 2013

CEO: Liz Accles

Contact Information:

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