OUR JOURNEY

EMBRACING HUMANITY

30 YEARS IN THE MAKING

1989

  • RIVER FUND, born during the HIV/AIDS epidemic… 

1991

  • RIVER FUND, founded on Thanksgiving Day to provide food, gifts and comfort for people living with HIV/AIDS. A purely volunteer based organization
  • Started the process to become a food pantry and served 42 people in the first “line”

1992

  • Determined the best way to reach our neighbor was to provide food rather than meals. Distributed 700-100 pounds of groceries, 7 days per week, per household

1995

  • Pioneered the Mobile Pantry system  

1996

  • Launched our RIVER FUND “Street Relief” Mobile Food Outreach Program at Rufus King Park in Jamaica, Queens
  • Moved into its current 2,500 square foot facility and “learned to do more with less”

1998

  • Qualified, officially, for and obtained 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status

2001

  • Partnered with restaurants and chefs and served round the clock meals for first responders at Ground Zero for more than six months

2002

  • Moved to larger facility on Lefferts Boulevard, qualified for the United States Department of Health Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Program and secured membership to The Food Bank of New York City and partnered with the United Way of New York

2003

  • Built onsite Pantry warehouse and purchased first Mobile Hunger Relief Program van with contributed funds by Phillip Morris/Kraft Foods

2004

  • Granted certification as an authorized Food Pantry in NYC with the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program

2005

  • Launched “Thanksgiving Dinner Kit” and “Holiday Gift Giving” and “Back to School” Program with support from partners including the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, COSTCO and State Farm Insurance

2007

  • Received Volunteer Group of the Year Award from the Terrance Cardinal Cook Center recognizing our work with those living with HIV/AIDS

2008

  • Established Benefit Access Center and utilized “Family-by-Family Approach” model
  • Created partnership with St. John’s Bread & Life which allowed us to deliver the Robin Hood Foundation funded “Single Stop Program” to our neighbors

2009

  • Upgraded our food assistance program from the “Pantry Bag” model to “Client Choice”
  • Began partnership with City Harvest and Feed the Children
  • Enlarged office space (from 150 square feet to 500 square feet) to expand advisory and income support services
  • Qualified for annual FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program
  • Began Child Show Program with Payless Shoe partnership – SHOES FOR KIDS

2010

  • Michael Tiedemann was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors and helped broaden RIVER FUND’s community to advance its work
  • Received The Food Bank of New York City Community Service Excellence Award
  • Appointed RIVER FUND Founder and Executive Director Swami Durga Das to the Food Banks’ Advisory Board

2012

  • Arrived as the very first emergency food program to arrive in the city’s flood zones behind Superstorm Sandy and partnered with the American Red Cross and the United States military to distribute 323 tons of product to 87,000 people in two months
  • Awarded a federal grant of $534,000 to continue working in the affected areas – as one of only eight hunger relief organizations to be considered. 
  • Vetted by both the Robin Hood Foundation and the American Securities Foundation and received grants that allowed RIVER FUND to transition from being 100% volunteer based to providing long-standing team-members with compensation
  • Partnered with Fresh Air Funds to provide children aged six years old and up with visits with host families across 13 different states and Canada – where they can experience the joys of summer in the country. 
  • Recognized as the very first organization to craft mobile pantry model under the Federal Hunger Prevention and Nutritional Assistance Program (HPNAP)

2013

  • Launched America’s very first “Child Poverty Awareness Day” on the second Sunday in August – an annual event to encourage businesses to pay attention to the plight of the needy children in their respective communities

2015

  • Established Cradle to College and Mary C. Tiedemann Scholarship Fund to make bridge-grants available to youth - there are 67,720 college age kids living in poverty in New York City, because of financial reasons, only 314 will make it to graduation. As of today, we have 62 attendees of the program and 22 graduates, all of whom are gainfully employed!
  • Hosted first fundraising event at the Metropolitan Club inducting Sybil and David Yurman into the Frontline Force

2016

  • Celebrated our SILVER ANNIVERSARY – 25th Years

2020

  • Responded immediately to the COVID-19 pandemic and deemed an essential service by New York State 
  • Created the “grab and go” food pantry that was modeled by the Food Pantry New York City 
  • Ramped up program from one to six days a week 
  • Quadrupled production, logistics and output. Prior to the pandemic, served 15,000 households per week, now at 33,000 and on average, 2 million pounds of groceries per month. Prior to COVID-19, RIVER FUND distributed 6.5 million pounds of groceries per year 

2021

  • Honored RIVER FUND’s 30th Anniversary on Thanksgiving Day by New York State, City and in the borough of Queens
  • Recognized as a leading Frontline Poverty Center in New York City that now offers more than 40 social-service benefits to client in 40 zip codes throughout the city
  • Acquired adjacent property expanded logistics and production footprint through the Social Impact Opportunity Fund
  • Launched RIVER TO SUCCSSS Educational Pathways Learning Center which includes the Mary C. Tiedemann Scholarship Fund, Mentoring Program, Behavior Program – P4P Scholars and Internship Program