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With a poverty rate of over 30% for families living in Bedford-Stuyvesant, there are over 20,000 individuals in need of food within the community. The devastation of poverty in this area has left thousands choosing between paying rent/utilities, buying medicine, and obtaining food.
Operating under GRACE International, Inc., the Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH) is a non-profit organization working vigorously to end hunger in the Bedford-Stuyvesant/Ocean Hill/Brownsville neighborhoods of Brooklyn, in Community Board Districts 3 and 16. We open our doors with the goal of impacting the lives of a population that has become invisible to society.
The mission of the BSCAH is to end hunger by distributing food and empowering families through information and support, which will bring strength and dignity to the community. We believe that food is a right, not a privilege, so we strive to make certain our neighbors never have to go without it.
The Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH) serves as a beacon of hope to our community, and our services extend beyond simply providing emergency food to encompass an array of programs. As one of the largest programs in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community, we are able to offer a host of vital services to the diverse clients we serve. Our goal is not simply to provide people with a satisfactory amount of food but to empower our families.
Above all, BSCAH prides itself on its commitment to serving a community whose critical needs often go unmet. The services we offer are not only important but vital to the over-6000 vulnerable individuals we serve each month. We offer the following programs at BSCAH: Emergency Hunger Relief, our "Eat Well and Live Well" program, family cooking classes, and Agape Day Camp.
Because of our commitment to ending hunger, in 2006 we expanded our services to accommodate the growing number of customers we presently serve. We relocated into a 2000-square-foot facility in order to open a supermarket-style food pantry, wherein our clients are able to choose the items they want from our shelves. This model reinvests people with the power of choice and lends dignity to the process of emergency food distribution. Additionally, it helps us to conserve food, since customers no longer end up with items they do not want, as often happens when they are given pantry bags. Consequently, the supermarket-style model costs less per meal than a prepackaged-pantry-bag model. Our pantry operates five days a week, with a wide range of hours to meet our customers' needs: Monday & Wednesday from 10:00AM-3:00PM and Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday from 1:00PM-6:30PM. Customers are able to visit our pantry once per month, and we provide enough food for them for three full days (with three meals per day), based on the size of their household.
Operating within our supermarket-style pantry, the "Eat Well and Live Well" program enables customers diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart trouble, or other serious medical conditions to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables once a week to help them maintain a healthy diet. Because we are committed to keeping our clients healthy, participants in this program are also eligible for nutrition education classes, offered through a partnership with Just Foods and City Harvest. Participants learn how their diets affect their health and how they can improve their nutrition through smart purchasing decisions at stores and pantries. Approximately 23% of our clients qualify for this program.
In conjunction with City Harvest, BSCAH also offers weekly nutritional cooking classes. Instructors and nutritionists teach participants how to create healthy meals for themselves using fresh produce from a local farmer's market. We place great emphasis on healthy eating at these classes, and once each session is over, all the participants leave with enough fruits and vegetables to prepare the recipes at home. Perhaps the greatest success of this program is the high attendance by children, who often outnumber the adults at each class. We hope that by educating them about food preparation and nutrition, they will grow to up to be strong, healthy adults.
Offered during the summer months, Agape Day Camp is a summer camp for working families and their children between the ages of four (4) and fourteen (14). Licensed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the program strives to create a safe, loving environment where children find enrichment while their parents are at work. The camp includes a variety of activities throughout the summer, including a barbeque/sports day, a trip to a local amusement park, boating and canoeing, instructional swimming classes, a reading club, and daily computer classes. Additionally, the program stresses nutrition education, and in addition to the physical activities the children participate in, they also partake in "healthy living" activities where, among other things, they learn to "shop" for healthy foods, follow the food pyramid, and understand the importance of portion sizes when organizing meals.
- Tamara Dawson
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