Columbia Partners With St. John the Divine and City Harvest on Food Relief

New Columbia University initiative partners with local food pantries to support food relief.

June 18, 2020

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine and Columbia University are partnering to prepare and distribute healthy meals to New York City residents affected by food insecurity and scarcity. Between June 15 and September 7, this initiative will provide 1,000 bagged meals per day to help vulnerable populations meet their basic daily needs. This effort is part of the recently launched Columbia Neighbors Food Relief Fund that brings together the extraordinary resources of the entire University community to fight hunger in Upper Manhattan.

Cathedral Community Cares, the Cathedral’s social services arm, operates a soup kitchen each Sunday that feeds approximately 26,000 people a year. While the COVID-19 crisis resulted in surging demand at the Cathedral’s soup kitchen, Columbia Dining, which feeds the many thousands of people associated with the University, closed down most of its functions. Now Columbia Dining has re-opened its food preparation facilities for this effort.

A portion of the meals will be distributed by the Cathedral to smaller soup kitchens throughout Harlem. The Cathedral and University will also work with food rescue organization City Harvest to ensure the remaining meals are distributed to where they are most needed throughout the city. City Harvest has a fleet of 22 refrigerated trucks that are on the road seven days a week, delivering this food to hundreds of soup kitchens, food pantries, and other community food programs in NYC. Funding for this initiative has been made possible by two generous donors. 

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. It is chartered as a house of prayer for all people and a unifying center of intellectual light and leadership. People from many faiths and communities worship together in services held more than 30 times a week; the soup kitchen serves roughly 26,000 meals annually; social service outreach has an increasingly varied roster of programs; the distinguished Cathedral School prepares young students to be future leaders; Advancing the Community of Tomorrow, the renowned preschool, afterschool and summer program, offers diverse educational and nurturing experiences; the outstanding Textile Conservation Lab preserves world treasures; concerts, exhibitions, performances and civic gatherings allow conversation, celebration, reflection and remembrance—such is the joyfully busy life of this beloved and venerated Cathedral. 

Columbia University is one of the world's leading research institutions and provides a distinctive and distinguished learning environment for undergraduates and graduate students in many scholarly and professional fields. The University recognizes the importance of its location in New York City and seeks to link its research and teaching to the vast resources of a great metropolis. It expects all areas of the University to advance knowledge and learning at the highest level and to convey the products of its efforts to the world.

City Harvest is New York City’s largest food rescue organization, helping to feed the nearly 1.2 million New Yorkers who are struggling to put meals on their tables. We will rescue more than 80 million pounds of food this year, and deliver it, free of charge, to hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens, and other community partners across the five boroughs. Our programs empower individuals through nutrition education, increase our partners’ capacity, and strengthen the local food system, helping New Yorkers who are experiencing food insecurity to access, afford, and consume nutritious food. To learn more about our work, visit