Urban Outreach Center, Empowering Communities And Ending Hunger Uptown

June 7, 2023

By HWM Partnership

The Urban Outreach Center NYC, a prominent nonprofit organization, is on a mission to combat food insecurity and uplift underserved communities in East Harlem and the Upper East Side.

Beyond traditional food pantries, UOC strives to address the broader needs of its beneficiaries, providing access to healthy foods, personal hygiene items, clothing, and vital social services. Serving over 65,000 New Yorkers annually, UOC is a beacon of hope and support.

At the heart of UOC’s efforts lies their robust food pantry, open on Wednesdays and Fridays, which offers not only nourishing sustenance but also a welcoming environment for those in need. Additionally, every Tuesday evening, the center hosts a hot community meal, bringing people together and fostering a sense of community. Recognizing that addressing poverty requires comprehensive solutions, UOC goes beyond food assistance, offering educational programs on nutrition, mail services for unhoused neighbors, and a shower program to provide a safe and dignified space for personal care.

Luisa Lopez, MSW, Director of Social Services, commends UOC’s commitment to serving the whole person and empowering communities to effect lasting change. “Overall, the Urban Outreach Center is a special place because of its dedication to serving the whole person and its commitment to empowering communities to create lasting change,” Lopez says, highlighting the center’s holistic approach.

In their ongoing efforts to advocate for the needs of the community, UOC is an active member of the NYC Food Policy Alliance, a collective of 80+ organizations addressing citywide food issues and policy. Recently, Shaun Kennedy, the UOC’s Director of Food Programs & Advocacy, testified at a City Council Committee on Finance Budget Hearing, urging the city to provide essential food resources to those in need. The center’s Assistant Director of Guest Experience, Josephine Wilson, has also been selected to participate in the City Harvest Network Capacity Team’s Peer Cohort Program. Through this program, Wilson aims to enhance UOC’s volunteer training and leadership initiatives, ensuring a dignified and welcoming experience for all pantry guests.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, UOC operates on an annual budget of $600,000, allowing them to make a significant impact in the lives of vulnerable community members. What sets UOC apart is its majority women- and BIPOC-led team, ensuring programming that is culturally appropriate and resonant with the diverse array of guests it serves.

Key Facts about Urban Outreach Center

  • Location: 1st Ave, between 90th & 91st St.
  • Core Programs:
    • Food Access: Farmers’ market-style food pantry (Wednesdays and Fridays) and community dinners (Tuesdays).
    • Mail Distribution: Transitional mailing address for unhoused neighbors.
    • Shower Program: Safe and dignified showers, along with towels and toiletries, for unhoused neighbors.
  • Staff: 5 dedicated professionals
  • Volunteers: 125-150 per month
  • Areas Served: East Harlem & Upper East Side
  • Year Started: 1990
  • Executive Director: Rev. Dr. Jordan Tarwater

Through their unwavering dedication and tireless efforts, the Urban Outreach Center continues to uplift the community, positively impacting the local food system and empowering individuals to overcome the challenges of poverty.

For more information, contact UOC at Info@UOCNYC.org or call (212) 288-6743.

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