Join Me To End Hunger In NYC

Did you know that in 2015 almost 37% of NYC soup kitchens and food banks turned people away for lack of resources?  Or that 1 in 5 New Yorkers doesn't have enough money for food everyday?
That’s why I launched Change Matters – to create a resource pipeline for making food available to people in need and to become part of the solution to end hunger in our city.  

Here’s what Change Matters is doing and how you can help:

We started Pay It Forward NYC: Reducing Hunger, One Slice At A Time by teaming with Upper West Side institution Sal and Carmine Pizza to provide hot food for hungry New Yorkers.  Inspired by the concept of ‘pay it forward,’ our first initiative provides the opportunity for people to purchase an extra slice of pizza for a hungry stranger.

This simple act can make a huge difference in someone’s life, bringing kindness and hot food to those who need both. Your SUPPORT can expand Pay It Forward NYC to more pizzerias and food shops around the five boroughs.

A second initiative: Change Matters is working with artists and industrial designers to fabricate coin collection arcades to capture the change people ‘hate’ to carry around for the purpose of creating a new funding stream for under-resourced soup kitchens and food pantries. 
Your dollars will support the start-up expenses of arcade design and fabrication, strategy implementation, and operations costs.  Arcades in highly-trafficked locations, like airport terminals and sports stadiums, have the potential for huge amounts of change – in coins and in community.

At its core, Change Matters believes one thing:  no one should go hungry in our city. One slice at a time, one pocket full of change – together we can help end hunger.

I hope you’ll Join us by taking action: make a contribution right now!

A Slice of Generosity on the Upper West Side

We’re 2 weeks out.  Over 75 slices have been purchased.  6 have been redeemed. Our work now is to spread the word that at Sal and Carmine Pizza, there is a free hot slice and some kindness for those who are hungry. 

What I’ve experienced so far is an outpouring of generosity along with a good dose of distrust – on both sides of giving and receiving.  Some folks are concerned as to whether the right and deserving will get a free slice.  And some of the hungry people I’ve encountered on the street don’t seem to believe that for the asking they can have a free slice of pizza.

I come to this initiative with an open heart and no judgment.  Whoever asks is in need – for something.  Hunger might be the driving force.   Or it could be that the need for kindness trumps that for food.  It’s hard for most of us to admit to both of these most primal of needs.  

So during this season of giving and celebration -  and through out the year - it is my wish that the spark of generosity and caring be more fully ignited in each of us.  Whether by contributing to Pay It Forward NYC, to Change Matters, or to an initiative in your neighborhood.  Let’s not leave anyone behind … no one in our City should be hungry.

One Slice At A Time

Today we launch the Change Matters initiative:  Pay It Forward NYC: Relieving Hunger, One Slice At A Time.  Teaming up with our first pizzeria in the upper west side of Manhattan, we are helping to make food available to people in need.  Come in, buy a slice and buy an extra one for a stranger who is hungry.  Or just buy a slice for a hungry stranger. 

It’s a simple idea and not a wholly original one, at that.  In the early stages of forming Change Matters, I’d purchased pizza for hungry strangers several times near my home. It was during that period that I read about Rosa’s Pizza in Philadelphia becoming a community hub where customers purchase a slice for a hungry person they don’t know. New Yorkers should do the same, I thought, instead of not knowing how to help people begging in the street. 

This simple act of purchasing an extra slice of pizza for a stranger can have a profound impact for someone who is hungry – and for the person giving, as well.  Kindness and hot food – we all need both!

With our mission to be a part of the solution to end hunger, we also want to make giving simpler and a little bit easier.  What could be easier than to buy a stranger a slice of pizza?

So who is joining this effort?  First is Sal and Carmine Pizza, at 2671 Broadway (101-102 St), a small family-owned business that is a neighborhood institution.  They have been recognized over the years with a range of accolades, not least of which is inclusion in the Pizza Hall of Fame and a 2015 Village Voice pick as one of the 10 best old-fashioned pizzerias in NYC.  They eagerly accepted our invitation to begin this effort of feeding our neighbors.  

We hope each and every one of you will join us, as well.  Come to Sal and Carmine’s.

Email or tweet, help us spread the word. Suggest pizzerias in your neighborhood where we can expand our initiative. And make a donation to help us grow our work to Pay It Forward, NYC: Relieving Hunger, One Slice At A Time.

The Language of Poverty

Is it that outlandish to think that someone who works 40 hours a week deserves to have enough food to feed their family?

Last month Stephanie Land wrote an article on Alternet, an alternative online press site, ‘“Please Don't Feed the Animals’- The Disturbing Rise of Anti-Poor Web Cruelty”, focusing on the online social stigmas concerning food insecurity, or the lack of nutritionally adequate food to feed herself and her children.  As a single mother and recent college graduate, Lands works two jobs and still needs to be on food stamps.

Poor-shaming is more prevalent than ever, especially on the internet. Anti-welfare posts and commentary lump food stamp receivers into a single category of undeserving. Words like “lazy”, “freeloaders”, “drug-addicts” are constantly thrown around in the spitfire that is the general Facebook feed. Land describes a particularly negative post that has been circulating.

“At home I turn to some online social support. But on Facebook I find a shared post titled “Today’s Lesson in Irony.” Apparently it’s been making the rounds, turning up on conservative politicians’ websites. Comparing National Park Service policy with federal food-assistance programs, it quotes NPS: ‘The animals will grow dependent on handouts, and then they will never learn to take care of themselves.’”

The language of poverty on the internet has become increasingly more ill-informed and assumptious. In the age of online “skacktivism”, our empathy is dwindling as fast as our attention spans. The social media sphere is quick to offer a Facebook post’s worth of insight on social issues, but the online community is becoming further and further detached from the reality of hunger in America.

However, the internet is not just a black-hole of negativity and worthless ramblings. There are millions of communities of informed activists and change-makers, using the tools of 21st century to create meaningful content. We have a responsibility to use social media for the social good, ending stigmas and promoting positivity. Our intent here at Change Matters is to tap into that potential and use technology to spread a more accurate message.

The better we present reality, the better chance we have at changing it.

Our Beginnings

How is it that we can live in a city of such abundance and allow so many of our neighbors to live in such deprivation?

The idea for Change Matters grew out of the pain I feel every time I pass someone on the street who asks for money; every time I read about the number of children who don't have enough to eat; every time I hear about the fight for a living wage and what people are expected to survive on.  Every time food stamp benefits are cut, soup kitchens and pantries experience an increase in the number of people asking for food.  Since 2008, they have experienced a 66% increase in demand.

Recently I heard that a person would have to earn almost $38/hour to be able to spend 40% of their income for an apartment in NYC.  Said another way, if you earn the minimum wage or even what’s being touted as a living wage, you can’t afford to live here.  Here being almost everywhere in NYC.

What is Change Matters?  And why should you join this effort?

Change Matters is a new organization that is tapping into an often unused pile of money – your change – to create an additional funding stream to help reduce hunger.  Your unwanted and spare coins … for many of you they are an annoyance, too heavy and bulky in your pocket or purse.  But in the aggregate, where on average each American home has a coin jar with $50 sitting on their bureau – we can make a huge dent in helping to fund soup kitchens and food pantries that are the stop gap for 1 in 5 New Yorkers.  That’s right: 1 in 5 New Yorkers don’t have enough money to purchase the food they need for themselves or their family.  And this is true all over our country, too: in urban, suburban and rural communities.

So join us – as we create game arcades to capture and collect your unwanted coins – and be part of the fight against hunger.