Last year, BGR began a partnership with NYC’s Reciprocity Foundation, which trains and counsels homeless youth. The partnership aims to enable Reciprocity to expand its vegetarian meals program. Their half-year interim report indicates this partnership is bearing fruit.
For the past eight years, the Reciprocity Foundation has worked tirelessly in New York City to provide care for homeless youth in the age range of 13-26 years. The Foundation aims to nurture the transformation of homeless, impoverished youngsters—most living in homeless shelters—into educated, employed young persons able to take on leadership roles in society. Reciprocity offers a unique holistic synthesis of contemplative, psychological, and practical modes of training. It provides counseling, meditation, yoga, retreats, career coaching, college admission support, and digital media training.
In 2012, the staff at Reciprocity found that their homeless students were arriving at the center very hungry because of a shortage of food at the shelters. Budget cuts had meant there was too little food for too many mouths. In the spring of 2012, they decided to design their own vegetarian food program, which they called “Starved for Meaning.” They began serving home-cooked, vegetarian meals to homeless and foster-care youth in New York City— group meals that provided the homeless young people with companionship as well as food. By the fall of 2012 Reciprocity had the largest vegetarian food program in the country for homeless people.
For 2013-14 Reciprocity wanted to expand and improve the food program, and so they applied to BGR for support. The goals expressed in their application were threefold: (1) to reconfigure their kitchen by upgrading its cooking facilities and serving space; (2) to double capacity, increasing the number of students served per week from 30 to 75, and the number of meals from 2 to 4 weekly; (3) to provide nutrition education by hiring a nutritionist to educate students about the vegetarian meal program and teaching them how to make healthy food choices.