Building Healthy Communities

Grantee Name

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House

Funding Area

Building Healthy Communities

Publication Date

December 2019

Grant Amount

$200,000

Grant Date:

April 2018 - March 2019

Roughly 50 million of New York City-funded meals and snacks are served by nonprofit institutions, including senior centers, homeless shelters, early childhood programs, and after-school programs.

Many of their clients are among the poorest and most vulnerable, and are at risk for chronic diseases and other diet-related illnesses. Although New York City has taken steps to improve institutional menus, there is still a great need to increase access to and consumption of fresh, healthy, local food in low-income communities.

In 2015, the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House (LHNH), a 125-year-old settlement house that serves almost 400,000 meals a year, launched The Teaching Kitchen, a farm-to-institution training program that helps nonprofit food service program workers implement steps to increase their clients’ consumption of healthy, local food without raising costs.

In 2018, NYSHealth awarded LHNH a grant to scale up The Teaching Kitchen program.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Provided no-cost training and technical assistance to 58 nonprofit organizations; combined, these organizations serve more than 5 million meals annually.
  • Expanded the geographic scope of the program to organizations beyond New York City to include its first upstate cohort of program sites.
  • Helped participating organizations collectively set 346 goals to increase the amount of fresh, healthy, and local food served, of which 301 have been met (87%). Goals included switching from frozen vegetables to fresh ones, replacing bottled salad dressing, and eliminating juice from menus.
  • Hired three additional staff members to train new nonprofit institutions and develop online materials, including The Teaching Kitchen’s farm-to-institution cookbook, and to provide Spanish language instruction and materials.

All the organizations attended a presentation by GreenMarket Co. on its GrowNYC wholesale farmers market program, which serves as a food hub and distribution program to a diverse array of sites throughout the City, including community-based organizations. The organizations learned about GrowNYC’s products and prices and information on how to begin ordering. Local sourcing is often more difficult for smaller organizations that do not have the capacity to meet procurement minimums or to make use of multiple vendors. By organizing into cohorts from the same community, smaller nonprofits can increase their purchasing power with vendors that supply local produce and other products. LHNH had significant success in helping smaller-capacity organizations meet the needed procurement minimums.

LHNH hosted a panel discussion, “Creating Wellness Through Farm-to-Institution Meals: Procurement, Practice, and Policy,” as part of its broader efforts to encourage healthier and more locally sourced institutional foods. Panelists included members of government, nonprofit, and academic institutions.

In 2019, NYSHealth awarded LHNH a second grant to further scale up and streamline The Teaching Kitchen across New York State. Under this grant, LHNH will expand its program to reach 150 organizations that serve roughly 10 million meals annually across New York State, including sites in the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund communities of Syracuse and Niagara Falls.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: LHNH secured $20,000 from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation to support The Teaching Kitchen program.