A gloved volunteer hands a Compassion Meal to a guest in Trinity Churchyard.

One Million Meals, Needed Now More Than Ever

On July 18, 2023, Trinity Church Wall Street served its one-millionth meal in Lower Manhattan so far this year — a milestone that puts the church on a path to serving more than double the number of meals it served to food-insecure people last year and a measure of the impact of immigrant families who have been arriving since April 2022.

“Our city has witnessed an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers coming to New York City since last spring,” said Pastor Gil Monrose, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships. “They are escaping violence, oppression, poverty, and, like all of us, want to live and support their families in peace.”

A sign reading "Compassion Meals" and "Welcome" in English, Spanish, and Chinese is shown on the sidewalk outside of Trinity Church.
Compassion Meals are offered throughout the day from Monday through Sunday to drop-in guests at Trinity Church.

Since 2009, Trinity has served New Yorkers free, nutritional meals through its grab-and-go feeding program. The parish’s food assistance ministry is inspired by Christ’s own feeding of the multitudes in the Gospels. Compassion Meals are offered throughout the day from Monday through Sunday to drop-in guests at Trinity Church (Broadway at Wall Street).

“Folks look forward to lunch on Wednesdays and Thursdays and dinners on Fridays because they know that they’ll get a hot meal,” shared Alberto Cruz, Director, Family & Community Support at Trinity. “For a lot of them, it’s the only hot meal they’ll get this week. Yes, some of our guests work on Wall Street, but they don’t make Wall Street money—everybody deserves to feel welcome and not ‘needy.’”

When the Compassion Meals program first hit its one-millionth meal served in December 2022, approximately 31,000 asylum seekers had arrived in New York City. Today, that number is more than 87,200. This, combined with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and lingering economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompted Trinity to broaden its outreach ministry by expanding its pantry network to 26 sites across Lower Manhattan. These distribution sites include public schools, community-based organizations, and shelters within the Lower East Side, Chinatown, and other downtown neighborhoods.

Trinity's Outreach team works with partner organization staff to either launch or bolster existing food pantries with food deliveries, meeting semi-annually to check in on their respective community’s needs and shift support as necessary. These pantry sites supplement the church’s own Compassion Meals served in the Trinity Churchyard seven days a week and the groceries distributed at the Compassion Market inside Trinity Commons. 

Masked volunteers distribute hot food to Compassion Meals program guests.
For many food-insecure visitors to Trinity, the Compassion Meals may be the only hot meal they’ll eat this week.

In addition to the added food pantry sites, Trinity has since expanded its Compassion Market offerings to include clothing, socks, and diapers—items specifically requested by these newly arriving families. The Outreach team seeks to jumpstart its inventory with a virtual clothing drive running through the end of August.

Tina Mo, a parent coordinator at P.S. 20 Anna Silver School, echoed many parents’ gratitude while acknowledging Compassion Meals staff. “Thank you for the immense support and contributions Trinity Church Wall Street has made to our community,” she said.

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