Since homeless men and women who live rough on city streets are the most isolated and hardest to reach, they are at tremendous risk of malnutrition. The Coalition's Grand Central Food Program, a mobile soup kitchen that stops at 31 sites throughout Manhattan and the Bronx every night of the year, meets this challenge head on. Unlike a traditional soup kitchen, our team of staff and volunteers brings the food to where street homeless people live - even amidst the harshest weather, black-outs, and other obstacles. For many homeless New Yorkers, this nightly meal is their only meal of the day.
Each night, a fleet of vans delivers life-saving meals of hearty stew, bread, fresh fruit, and juice or milk to approximately 1,000 people. During the past year, the Grand Central Food Program served more than 365,000 meals to homeless and hungry New Yorkers and greatly enhanced the nutritional value of our foods by incorporating low-sodium meats and whole grain breads to our menu. In addition to providing meals, the Grand Central Food Program distributes clothing, blankets, sleeping bags and personal hygiene items such as toiletries and underwear.
The Grand Central Food Program also offers street homeless people a sense of community and emotional support to help them move "beyond the soup kitchen" to greater self-sufficiency. Each night our staff, which includes a Mobile Outreach Worker, builds trust and guides them to other life changing services such as psychiatrict treatment, medical treatment, substance abuse treatment, or shelter and vital benefits offered by the Coalition and partner organizations.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Grand Central Food Program. Many volunteer one night per week. They distribute food, clothing, and blankets; treat the people we serve with dignity and respect; and raise awareness of homelessness and poverty in our city. For more information about volunteering, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The program's three vans operate 6:30-9:30 p.m. every night of the year. Below are the locations and approximate times for the Coalition's Grand Central Food Program van feeding stops, or click here to download the list.
5:30 - 6:30 p.m. St. Bartholomew's, 51st Street between Park and Lexington
7:15 p.m. 35th St. under FDR Drive
7:30 p.m. Housing Court/Chinatown, Lafayette & Leonard St.
8:00 p.m. Staten Island Ferry
8:15 p.m. Sunshine Hotel/Bowery Mission-Bowery between Stanton & Rivington
8:45 p.m. Madison Square Park-5th Ave. & 27th St.
9:00 p.m. Penn Station-33rd St. & 8th Ave.
7:15 p.m. SW corner 51st & Broadway
7:30 p.m. Port Authority, 40th St. between Dyer and 10th Ave..
8:00 p.m. 79th St. Boat Basin - 79st St. at West Side Highway
8:15 p.m. 86th St. & West End Ave.
8:30 p.m. Cathedral of St. John the Divine - 112th St. & Amsterdam
9:00 p.m. Harlem Hospital - 137th & Lenox Ave.
9:15 p.m. Central Park - 5th Ave.
9:45 p.m. SONY building - 55th St. bet. Madison & 5th
7:30 p.m. SW corner Randall Ave. & Bryant Ave.
7:45 p.m. NW corner Lafayette Ave. & Manida St.
8:00 p.m. Lincoln Hospital - Morris Ave. & 148th St.
8:20 p.m. NE corner of 164th St. & Ogden Ave.
8:45 p.m. Fordham Rd. & University Ave.
9:10 p.m. Fordham Rd. & Webster Ave.
On a cold rainy night this past October, a series of large boxes are tucked in the darkness on the top step of a church in midtown Manhattan. This is where Robbie lives. He is waiting for the Coalition's Grand Central Food Program van. As it arrives with hot meals, Robbie and the other men who sleep in front of the church finish putting their boxes together for the night. Their goal is to create a tight seal to keep the body heat in.
Robbie was born in Queens. He was married and has two grown children who he has not seen for three years. He worked for 16 years for a printing company in Lower Manhattan, but became homeless after losing his job several years ago. He still manages to keep a sense of hope: "I'm going to try for my pension next year and then I can get a little apartment."
For men and women like Robbie, the food, clothing, and compassion of every day New Yorkers provided by the Grand Central Food Program does not just help them survive - it offers them a daily connection to a support system offering a real chance at a better life.