For 30 years, buses carrying food, water and volunteers have traveled throughout New York City to help provide people experiencing homelessness with resources they haven’t been able to get on their own. The goal of New York City Relief has always been to support the homeless to make strides toward life transformation.
In 1989, Richard and Dixie Galloway started NYC Relief when they got the idea of a bus that would drive into the heart of New York City. At the time, Port Authority was essentially a tent city of people camped outside.
“They started taking this bus into these areas with the intention of connecting the people that are in need to the resources that are available to them,” said Josiah Haken, Vice President of Outreach Operations. “They started with one bus and this vision to follow through on their convictions, and 30 years later, we’re still going.”
Today, NYC Relief has two buses, two shuttles and the ability to take their operation indoors when they have a place like a shelter where homeless people are gathering. In addition to their consistent vision, NYC Relief has been serving the same soup recipe since its inception.
“We had a chef that came up with this recipe for soup and the recipe just sort of stuck. It’s a custom recipe, it’s really healthy. It covers a lot of the main components someone would need in their diet,” said Haken. “We also [receive] Portuguese rolls which are really, really delicious from a bakery in Newark that donates bread every day for us and has been for 30 years.
In order to keep their food and beverages at the ideal temperature while serving for hours across the city, the organization relies on Cambro Beverage and Soup Camtainers. NYC Relief has been using Cambro insulated products for around 15 years. They originally were using large metal containers that were extremely heavy and found them to be dangerous to their volunteers.
“When we came upon Cambro products, it was really awesome because now we have…lightweight, durable, stackable, portable containers that we could fill with soup in the morning and it would maintain the heat and keep the heat of the soup all the way until the very end of outreach,” said Haken. “It would allow us to make sure that we were doing things the right way and a healthy way as well.”
“We’ve been using Cambro ever since. There was no going back,” said Haken.
In addition to serving their signature soup and donated rolls, they also provide water, coffee and seasonal beverages like hot chocolate and lemonade. They were thrilled when they discovered the temperature versatility of Cambro’s Camtainers.
“We’re in New York City, the winters are brutal and we’re outside in the freezing cold on the sidewalk. I’ve been outside serving on outreach with it being 7°F and we have these [Cambro] drink containers that are holding hot chocolate and they’re keeping the heat, which is amazing,” said Haken. “In the summertime, we have the opposite. We have 100°F days serving iced lemonade and iced tea out of the same [Camtainer] that we use during the winter.”
NYC Relief believes life transformation happens one person at a time and strive to create a space where everyone feels like they belong. Although their focus is on building meaningful relationships with the people they meet—their website insists it “all starts with a cup of soup!”