Food Bank For New York City announced the expansion of an innovative pilot program designed to integrate free financial empowerment services into its signature hunger relief programs, enabling more low-income families across the city to access a suite of holistic financial coaching and food assistance services in a single location. With support from Citi, these free financial empowerment services – which are modeled after the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs’ citywide financial empowerment initiative – are now serving 18 schools in conjunction with its citywide network of food pantries and soup kitchens. Offerings include a range of services, such as debt management and reduction, household and food budgeting, bank accounts, tax preparation, SNAP (formerly food stamps) screenings and more. In addition, Citi announced a continuation of its support of the Financial Empowerment in Schools program with an additional $200,000 in 2015 to deepen the initiative’s work in the 18 operating schools, bringing Citi’s total commitment to the Food Bank on this and other related programs to $700,000.
Recent research from the University of Illinois reveals a strong relationship between food insecurity and household financial capability – particularly for low- and moderate-income families, who may have unstable incomes, low credit scores, or other financial hardships. The research also suggests that by providing financial coaching alongside nutritional support and other anti-hunger measures, food-insecure households may be able to strengthen their financial resiliency and address some of the root causes of food insecurity in a more sustainable way. This is especially important as the need for emergency food remains staggeringly high: thirty-eight percent of program participants are regularly forced to choose between buying food and paying other living expenses, such as rent; and thirty percent of participant families reported frequently skipping meals.
“This data gives us a glimpse into what our City’s meal gap looks like: the working parent’s crushing debt stemming from a chronic shortfall of income to meet expenses; the inability to plan and save for a child's future; and a depth of hunger that should not exist anywhere in America,” said Margarette Purvis, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City.
“Food Bank For New York City is fortunate to have partners like Citi, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment, and the United Federation of Teachers Community Learning Schools Initiative, who recognize this devastating link between financial insecurity and food insecurity, and have stepped up to help us fill the gap to help hard working families to thrive.”
This collaboration between Food Bank and Citi is the first to utilize a metric known as the “Meal Gap” as the assessment tool for providing financial coaching to low-income families. The Meal Gap is measured by the total number of meals missing from the homes of families struggling to put enough food on the table as a result of financial hardships, rising food costs, poverty and other socioeconomic factors. Because it can be geographically mapped, the Meal Gap reveals where hunger lives – enabling Food Bank to allocate resources to areas with the highest need across New York City, which collectively has a Meal Gap of 250 million meals per year.
“The relationship between food insecurity and financial insecurity is a powerful example of how complex the challenges facing low- and moderate-income New Yorkers are, and why a holistic response is necessary,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance. “By working with Food Bank For New York City to integrate financial empowerment services into school-based anti-hunger programs, we can help narrow the Meal Gap and enable progress for families in the city.”
In recognition of Citi’s support for Financial Empowerment in Schools and other Food Bank initiatives, Mr. Annibale will be accepting the Cadwalader Award for Corporate Service tomorrow on behalf of Citi at Food Bank’s annual NYC’s Conference on Hunger and Poverty.
By combining financial education, nutritional support, and access to related anti-poverty programs through Food Bank’s citywide Network which links to agencies to provide referrals for benefits, housing, and employment, Food Bank’s financial coaching services are quickly helping more low-income families get back on their feet. These services are a continuation of Food Bank’s anti-poverty programs supporting low-income communities, including Cookshop, which helps children, teens and adults develop nutrition knowledge and cooking skills to make healthy food choices on a limited budget.
Food Bank’s financial coaching services are sponsored by Citi, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, the United Federation of Teachers and Community Learning Schools.
“At DCA we understand that economic insecurity and hunger are two sides of the same devastating problem,” Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin. “DCA has pioneered the integration of financial counseling into the work of Governments, non-profits and business, and our partnership with Food Bank and Citi to bring financial empowerment into schools is another example of this. We don’t want to wait for people to come to us. We are taking our services to the people.”
With that same idea in mind, in 2002, in an effort to facilitate connections between public schools and their neighborhood resources, United Federation of Teachers launched the Community Learning Schools Initiative (CLS).
“A community school is perfect place to reach a large group of children and families, and Food Bank's financial empowerment services did just that at our Community Learning Schools,” said Christine M. Schuch, Director of Polity, United Federation of Teachers, NYC Community Learning Schools Initiative. “If our families are struggling to put food on the table, the last thought on their mind is creating a budget or opening a savings account. But what Food Bank's financial coaching services provide is the financial tools that empower families to take control of their finances. This service has had nothing but a positive impact and we look forward to our continued collaboration with Food Bank.”
For more information on Food Bank’s financial coaching services, visit: http://www.foodbanknyc.org/school-financial
About Food Bank For New York City:
Food Bank For New York City has been the city’s major hunger-relief organization working to end hunger throughout the five boroughs for more than 30 years. Nearly one in five New Yorkers relies on Food Bank for food and other resources. Food Bank takes a strategic, multifaceted approach that provides meals and builds capacity in the neediest communities, while raising awareness and engagement among all New Yorkers. Through its network of more than 1,000 charities and schools citywide, Food Bank provides food for more than 63 million free meals for New Yorkers in need. Food Bank For New York City’s income support services, including food stamps (also known as SNAP) and free tax assistance for the working poor, put more than $100 million each year into the pockets of New Yorkers, helping them to afford food and achieve greater dignity and independence. In addition, Food Bank’s nutrition education programs and services empower more than 275,000 children, teens and adults to sustain a healthy diet on a low budget.
To learn more about how you can help, please visit foodbanknyc.org. Follow us on Facebook (FoodBank4NYC), Twitter (@FoodBank4NYC) and Instagram (FoodBank4NYC). To donate, visit www.foodbanknyc.org/donate. To become a partner, visit www.foodbanknyc.org/partner. To volunteer, visit volunteer.foodbanknyc.org. To advocate, visit www.foodbanknyc.org/advocate. To host a Virtual Food Drive, visit www.foodbanknyc.org/vfd. To receive Food Bank For New York City’s CEO E-Newsletter, visit www.foodbanknyc.org/email.
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