About / FAQ


Browse through this page to find answers to commonly raised questions.


Who is Gotham Food Pantry?

Gotham Food Pantry is a nonprofit that advances food justice by establishing community refrigerators in areas of high food insecurity, with a focus on public housing complexes. We are building a sustainable, community-driven model of food justice with the goal of ending food insecurity and food waste in New York City by 2030.

What is food insecurity?

As defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food insecurity is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.

What is a community fridge?

Community fridges are communal refrigerators where surplus food is shared for free amongst members of a community.

What is food rescue?

Food rescue, also called food recovery and surplus food redistribution, is the practice of collecting fresh, edible food that would otherwise go to waste—from restaurants, grocers, dining facilities, and other food establishments—and distributing it to local social service agencies and community organizations.

Is food waste really a big deal?

YES. Food waste is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. ReFED has a powerful online tool where anyone can learn about the magnitude of food waste. According to the Economist Impact, “if food loss and waste were its own country, it would rank third in impact on global warming behind China and the United States.” Seems pretty big to us.

I hear that a lot of your community fridges are in public housing complexes. Do you have to be a resident of the housing complex to get food from those fridges?

NO! While food insecurity is disproportionately high among public housing residents, it also tends to be high among neighbors of those housing complexes. If you are food insecure, this food is for you.

So, how does it all work?

Great question! Gotham Food Pantry partners with public housing tenant associations and other community stakeholders to source nutritious food from large food-centered NGOs and local retailers, and distribute that nutritious food directly to people in need. We operate a community-powered model that seeks to feed communities with the very food that is already going to waste in those communities.


How does Gotham Food Pantry differ from a traditional food pantry?

Gotham Food Pantry does not bank food. Instead, we work with tenant associations and community stakeholders to source and facilitate donations of local excess food, getting the food directly to those in need quickly. One benefit is that we operate without the obstacles of traditional food pantries, such as limited hours of operations, long lines, and documentation requirements.

How can I help Gotham Food Pantry?

Gotham Food Pantry is looking for passionate, tenacious individuals across all walks of life who believe that no one should go hungry. While there are many ways to assist Gotham Food Pantry, the one we are most excited about is building Food Justice Teams at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) locations across the city. Members of these teams will work with a specific NYCHA tenant association to source and distribute food to residents and neighbors. If you would like to volunteer with us, please submit the form on our Volunteer page.

Where do volunteer events take place?

We partner with public housing complexes and community groups across the five boroughs. If you live in New York City, anywhere at all, we have an opportunity nearby.

I work Monday through Friday, from 9AM to 5PM. Do you have opportunities that accommodate my schedule?

Food security doesn’t take off nights and weekends. Neither do we. We appreciate your time and can work with most schedules.

Is lifting involved at volunteer events?

For food rescue and distribution events, we ask the volunteers to be comfortable lifting at least 30 pounds.

Food Retailers

Why should I donate my excess food?

Because wherever your business is located, there are families nearby coping with food insecurity on a daily basis. Beyond helping your neighbors in need you will save on waste disposal costs, reduce the volume of greenhouse gas-emitting food in landfills, bolster employee morale, and receive a tax deduction.

Can I be sued if someone gets sick?

Highly unlikely. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act provides limited liability protection for individuals and businesses that make good faith donations of food and grocery products to nonprofits that feed the hungry. The act also provides limited liability protection, both civil and criminal, for those who distribute food and groceries, such as food banks. New York State provides additional liability protections for food donations.

Can I receive a tax deduction?

Absolutely! All food donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. For more information on calculating tax deductions for food donations, see this helpful guide from our friends at ReFed.

Community Partners

Can I receive food donations from Gotham Food Pantry?

We are always looking to partner with community stakeholders in a shared effort to end food insecurity. Whether your organization is a tenant association, nonprofit, religious institution, or school, we would love to hear from you if you’re committed to bolstering the food security of your neighbors. Please visit our Contact page to get in touch.


Are financial donations tax-deductible?

ABSOLUTELY! All donations are deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

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