Serving 22 years as a poverty amelioration organization whose client-base comprises 40% children, The River Fund New York has been fighting the growth of food-insufficiency in New York—where poverty and its effects, including hunger and homelessness, have hit levels that rival those recorded here during the Great Depression. Our Mission, “to feed and empower those we serve to move beyond the lines of poverty,” makes us the life-line for 160,000 people.
As a community organization that has been operating aggressively in the poverty-resistance arena for more than two decades, we have won various awards in New York for pioneering innovative ways to fight hunger, homelessness and poverty in dozens of city neighborhoods. In fact, we are recognized as the national pioneer in getting federal support for the Mobile Food Pantry concept. This is a major achievement that has benefited many communities across the country, and made a huge difference in the manner in which the aftermath of Hyperstorm Sandy was addressed—the nation’s largest natural disaster, to date, that devastated the East Coast in October 2012.
Beyond hunger relief, The River Fund provides nutritional education, income support and benefits enrollment services. This includes one-stop prescreening for more than 40 social-service benefits, which saves people the expense and frustration of visiting dozens of government offices just to see if they might qualify for a benefit. After completing the prescreening, The River Fund’s team helps those who qualify enroll in many of those benefits. We have our own private electronic portal into New York City’s government-run paperless document management network, which allows us to enroll people directly into the Food Stamp program, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.
Some of our activities include: Providing free mobile phones to needy households; free annual school supplies including backpacks; free shoes for kids; free podiatric care for seniors including free orthopedic shoes; free winter-wear including coats, hats, scarves, gloves, etc; free sleep-away summer camps for children, and many other programs.
With 40% of our clients being children, we offer organically grown children’s vitamins every month, and we’re one of only 10 sites in New York hosting “Community CookShop”—an 8-week program for parents and children funded by the Mario Batali Foundation, where kids learn to assess food-value and prepare healthy meals for themselves.
In summer, apart from free vacations, we take at-risk 13 to 18-year-olds off the streets by enrolling them in our 18-team basketball tournament, hosted by our own team, The River Fund Cobras. Of course, The River Fund’s Xmas-Gift-Giving events, which distributes tens of thousands of toys during the Holiday Season, and our Easter-Basket-Giveaway are very popular family occasions.
In 2013, The River Fund launched America’s very first “Child Poverty Awareness Day” on the second Sunday in August—an event designed to grow into an annual program when businesses pay attention to the plight of needy children in their respective communities. We believe it’s essential to draw public attention to the fact that children are BY FAR the largest demographic in New York City—and in the United States—facing the daily effects of poverty, although they are the least equipped to confront those challenges.
Being primarily volunteer-based, and operating from a tiny 2,500 sqft. facility, The River Fund knows how to do more with less. Our free tax-prep service repatriates more than half-a-million dollars annually into the community that would otherwise go unclaimed from the IRS. As the leading multi-pronged benefits enrollment agency in Queens, we have become a primary partner in the borough for programs sponsored by Federal, State and City entities that need strong, community-based organizations to advance important poverty-reduction objectives in more than 40 zipcodes.
On top of all that, we were also the VERY FIRST emergency food program to arrive in the city’s flood zones behind Hyperstorm Sandy—serving 323 tons of product to 87,000 people in two months. After the initial relief effort, we created five ongoing Satellite Sites in the stricken areas and kept providing food through them to poor families and seniors: an average of 16,000 people per month in the flood zones alone. Given all of this work, we were awarded a federal grant of $534,000 to continue our endeavors in the areas affected by Sandy—as one of only eight hunger relief organizations to be considered.
The Robin Hood Foundation and the American Securities Foundation both vetted The River Fund New York for grants in 2012 and now both donors regard us as star performers of their respective funding programs.
Our Work Matters:
Swami Durga Das accepting the NYC "Agency of the Year" Award from at the prestigious CAN-DO Gala in 2012.
We were invited to join the Robin Hood family of grantees in summer 2012. Here are some highlights from our first year. READ MORE.
When the leading US supplement manufacturer NBTY approached Feed the Children seeing to find a launch partner in New York for their new MetRx Cares Food Pantry Product, The River Fund was selected. READ MORE.