In New York City, between 1.5 – 2 million people are food insecure. West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH) is a leader in the emergency feeding space and has been successfully serving low-income New Yorkers for over four decades. WSCAH is best known for innovating the supermarket style, client choice model of food distribution more than 20 years ago. In response to changing client needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, WSCAH sought to pilot a new type of client choice model that prioritizes three key components: technology for advanced ordering, delivery to a community pick up site, modified client choice, allowing clients to select from four options of food boxes. To deliver this work in the pilot phase, WSCAH partnered with three community organizations: Children’s Aid Taft Early Childhood Center in Harlem, and Phipps Neighborhoods Crotona Park West and Grace & Peace Church in the Bronx. These organizations were selected based on general neighborhood need and by assessing the existing clientele of WSCAH, or in partnership with city agencies.
The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute (CUNY), based at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, conducted a multi-year, mixed methods study of this initiative, designed in close partnership with WSCAH. Throughout the evaluation, data collection tools were adapted based on the changing need of the project.