Veterans’ Health

Project Title

Addressing Veteran Food Insecurity in the Bronx

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Veterans’ Health

Date Awarded

March 15, 2021






Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more New Yorkers are facing food insecurity than at any other time in recent history.

Veterans are twice as likely to be food insecure compared with the non-veteran population. This pattern plays out in New York City, where 70,000 veterans, or 3 out of 10, rely on soup kitchens and food pantries. To address food insecurity among veterans during the pandemic, New York State launched a pilot program with the meal kit producer HelloFresh, focused on delivering free meal kits to veterans and military families in New York City. The initiative relies on a partnership between the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services (NYS DVS), New York City Department of Veterans’ Services (NYC DVS), HelloFresh, local food banks, and community-based organizations. The groups mobilize volunteers and their operational infrastructures to package, deliver, and coordinate healthy food boxes and meal pickups for veterans. In 2021, NYHealth awarded Black Veterans for Social Justice (BVSJ) a grant to ensure strong program operations and an adequate supply of healthy foods for thousands of veteran families in the Bronx. NYHealth is also supporting a complementary initiative with the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties in the North Country region.

Under this grant, BVSJ connected food-insecure veterans in the Bronx to free, nutritious food each week. It conducted extensive outreach to veterans in the Bronx and other parts of New York City, with a focus on areas hardest hit by the pandemic. BVSJ worked with HelloFresh to procure an adequate supply of healthy food meal kits throughout the project. It coordinated with NYC DVS and local community partners to re-open a pickup location at the Bronx Veterans Affairs Medical Center, as well as partnered with The Campaign Against Hunger to continue operational and logistical support to distribute meal kits each week to veterans. Additionally, BVSJ integrated screening, referral, and enrollment services to connect veterans to longer-term and more sustainable resources that address food insecurity, including the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and Veterans Affairs (VA)-related services. BVSJ also coordinated with NYS DVS, NYC DVS, and partner organizations to refer veterans to other health and human services, including housing, legal, VA health care, employment, and education support.