Capacity Building

UWNYC provides critical capacity support to so that emergency food programs (EFP), commonly known as food pantries and soup kitchens, can deliver high-quality meal and grocery distribution services to community members in need.  Our capacity efforts are designed to ensure that programs can comply with city and state food safety requirements while providing a dignified dining and shopping experience.  Eligible programs receive crucial kitchen equipment, including freezers, refrigerators, shelving, stoves, and food service products.  Programs can also receive grants to cover basic operating expenses, such as staffing, transportation, utility, and space costs. 

Staff nutritionists lead monthly food safety and nutrition workshops to impart practical skills and knowledge in food handling and nutrition to EFP staff. Onsite technical assistance in meal planning, inventory management, and distribution systems is also provided to further fine-tune program operations.

Each year, we provide food pantries with equipment and customized on-the-ground support to transition from a traditional pre-bagged pantry to a client choice pantry. This best-practice model of food distribution makes it possible for pantries to satisfy the cultural and nutritional needs of individuals in their communities while reducing waste. Food pantry clients are empowered to select their own food and make healthy food choices.  Since 2007, we have partnered with 70 pantries to become client choice.

If you are a New York City–based food pantry and are interested in learning more about making the change to client choice, please contact Stacey McCarthy at (212) 251-4060 or For a look inside three client choice pantries, watch this short video: