Shore Soup Project, Far Rockaway, NY
Robyn Hillman-Harrigan, Executive Director, Rockaway Rescue Alliance
The Shore Soup Project was founded as a community-based organization by residents of the Rockaways as a direct response to the needs of the community in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Shore Soup Project worked steadfastly during the months after Sandy with a network of over 400 volunteers from across the New York region to prepare, cook, and deliver over 50,000 hot, fresh meals to Rockaway residents.
As the emergency conditions in Rockaway subsided, Shore Soup Project saw a continuing need to increase long-term access to healthy food in the community. During the summer of 2013, Shore Soup Project launched and operated a Kickstarter-funded, pay-as-you-can food truck in pursuit of this mission. Under the innovative pay-as-you-can model, residents and visitors could enjoy the healthy, organic foods offered on our truck no matter what their ability to pay.
We are now working to build an urban agriculture infrastructure for the community, which will integrate with our free meal delivery service for homebound residents, and our planned pay-as-you-can restaurant and community center. We are building a new 1.6 acre community garden called Shore Farm in Rockaway, and also expanding our meal delivery program. Our goal is to create a community center and kitchen called SHORE, which will host nutrition workshops and operate under the pay-as-you-can model.
Currently, the staff of Shore Soup Project consists of one Executive Director, a Development and Communications Officer, and two Americorps members.
The Rockaways have traditionally been marginalized from the rest of New York City and suffered from a lack of access to healthy food even before Hurricane Sandy devastated the community. The hurricane exacerbated this problem, shuttering many supermarkets. Only two have since reopened forcing many residents to purchase heavily processed, low-quality food from local bodegas and corner groceries.
In the months after Hurricane Sandy, our project’s work led directly to a meaningful and positive impact on those who received our healthy, freshly made soups. We heard the complaint all too often that other food given to residents at the time was too high in sodium, and nearly unpalatable.
Over the summer of 2013, we were able to serve an average of 200 meals a day from our pay-as-you-can food truck. We were glad to be able to provide this service to our community.
Currently, we are delivering an average of 150-200 healthy, organic soups to homebound residents of the Rockaways each week, and are planning to expand our weekly capacity as we re-enter the colder months. We also serve the community who are members of our current community garden, providing gardening supplies and beds for their use and teaching them about organic gardening practices.