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Your Support Matters: Reflections from West Side Campaign Against Hunger

BJ and the West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH) have been longtime partners, bolstering each other’s efforts to address food insecurity on the Upper West Side and throughout NYC. Each year, we support WSCAH’s incredible efforts by asking the BJ community for donations leading up to the High Holy Days through our Kol Nidre appeal, responding to the words of the prophet Isaiah which we read on Yom Kippur: “This is the fast that I desire… to share your bread with the hungry…” 

Below is an open letter from WSCAH Executive Director and CEO Greg Silverman reflecting on how the BJ community helps bolster WSCAH’s ongoing, critical work. We hope you will read it and be inspired to support such a critical institution. 

We will have physical boxes set up at all of our in-person Kol Nidre services to accept donations for WSCAH if you would like to bring a check with you. 

For 42 years, West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH) has worked to provide New Yorkers access with dignity to a choice of healthy food and supportive services. As one of the largest Emergency Food Providers in NYC, WSCAH has been on the frontlines meeting the needs of New Yorkers. As you are well aware, millions of families in need have struggled well before this pandemic. The terrible strains of illness, unemployment, and the ongoing risks of exposure in public spaces have dramatically increased food insecurity across NYC. As a result, WSCAH has seen and continues to see dramatically increased need at all of its food access sites. 

B’nai Jeshurun is one of WSCAH’s most important community supporters. The support you have provided as advocates for food security, financial supporters, and volunteers have and continue to play a vital role in the success of our mission.

Last year the B’nai Jeshurun community came together to provide more than $40,000 in financial support for WSCAH’s food and benefits access work. This generous support not only helped WSCAH with its elevated operational costs and increased food costs, but it also helped WSCAH meet the ever-increasing number of hungry New Yorkers seeking healthy food. 

With the help of B’nai Jeshurun, WSCAH has:

  • Expanded our reach and impact through working with over 65 community partner organizations to increase food access sites across all 5 boroughs. 
  • Served over 77,000 hungry New Yorkers 
  • Distributed 4.4. Million pounds of food, where 50% was fresh produce. 

Beyond food, WSCAH continues to drive increased access to benefits and advocate for fundamental changes to our food systems. To ensure the safety of our customers, staff, and volunteers during the pandemic, our Social Service Department went virtual. Our Community Resource Specialists have worked diligently to increase access to crucial benefits, including healthcare, food stamps (SNAP), and pandemic relief programs, connecting our customers to nearly $5 million in cash benefits. WSCAH has led repeated and successful systemic changes at the city and state level, including securing new funding for food providers and reducing the administrative barriers to funding, as well as driving NY State to provide vaccinations to the frontline workers and volunteers who have been showing up every day of the pandemic for their fellow New Yorkers. As an individual organization and in collaboration with our partners across the city, our advocacy efforts are pushing important systemic changes, bringing all of us closer to the day that we can proudly say that no New Yorker goes hungry.

As we look to the future, we are questioning the paradigms of the emergency food system: the norms for what types of foods are most important to distribute to food insecure New Yorkers, the methods and locations of food distribution, the role of food pantries writ large and their supply chain dynamics. We continue to advocate for removing critical roadblocks in our food system that enable harmful practices or undermine our efforts to meet the continually growing need for supplemental food in New York City and across the country. 

WSCAH is shifting its focus to new models and technologies to provide better service and more choice to our customers – choice of the foods that they want and how they get them. WSCAH is again committed to flipping the emergency food relief system on its head and removing one of the most significant barriers to providing healthy food with dignity: getting to the food in person. WSCAH is preparing to transform the emergency food relief system in NYC into one that can more efficiently and effectively serve New Yorkers in need by creating an innovative, scalable and responsive digital choice and customer delivery model, providing direct to community and customer delivery. 

WSCAH is grateful for the support of the B’nai Jeshurun community. Your support has allowed us to meet unprecedented needs in the last year and a half. Our primary objective is to continue serving as a reliable resource for New Yorkers in need of healthy food and social services in the coming year. WSCAH will need to maintain elevated levels of service in the coming year to meet the ongoing increased needs of New Yorkers. A renewal of the support from the B’nai Jeshurun community would help us uphold our mission, address the ongoing unforeseen needs presented by the pandemic, and provide New Yorkers in need with food and supportive services rooted in dignity, community, and choice.

Together, we drive necessary change in New York City, working towards the day that all New Yorkers can trust in access to the food and support they need and deserve.

How to Support WSCAH

WSCAH greatly appreciates the support from our community and can accept donations by mail to West Side Campaign Against Hunger, 263 West 86th Street, New York, NY 10024, or online. 

If you have any further questions about how your donation supports WSCAH or would like to make a gift through a stock or wire transfer, please contact WSCAH Development & Communications Manager, Kira Garfinkel.

West Side Campaign Against Hunger is a program of the 501(c)3 West Side Center for Community Life, Inc. (EIN71-0908184). All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.