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City Harvest Opens Cohen Community Food Rescue Center to Help Feed the Millions of New Yorkers Experiencing Food Insecurity

City Harvest Opens Cohen Community Food Rescue Center to Help Feed the Millions of New Yorkers Experiencing Food Insecurity

With Thanksgiving approaching, the New 150,000-Square-Foot Food Rescue & Distribution Center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Opens Amid Record-High Food Insecurity Across the Five Boroughs

The New Center Will Double the Organization’s Capacity to Rescue and Deliver Fresh Food Across NYC as Monthly Visits to NYC Food Pantries remain up 69% Since 2019

New York, NY – November 1, 2022City Harvest, New York City’s first and largest food rescue organization, today opened a first-of-its-kind, 150,000-square-foot food rescue center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn dedicated to rescuing and delivering tens of millions of pounds of food every year to help feed New Yorkers in need. As monthly visits to New York City food pantries and soup kitchens have risen by 69% since 2019 and continue to increase, the Cohen Community Food Rescue Center empowers the organization to rescue, store, and distribute twice as much food across the five boroughs. For the first time in City Harvest’s 40-year history, the new Food Rescue Center will unite all of the organization’s food rescue, repackaging, distribution, office, and community spaces under one roof. The Food Rescue Center was designed by Ennead Architects (Design Architect, Interior and Exterior), Rockwell Group (Interior Architectural Design for Event Space & Demonstration Kitchen), and Ware Malcomb (Logistics Spaces and Architect of Record). The opening coincides with City Harvest’s 40th year serving New York City. Photos can be found here.

As New Yorkers begin planning for the holiday season, NYC food pantries and soup kitchens are seeing 14% more monthly visitors now than they did in January of this year. City Harvest has been working tirelessly to rescue and deliver as much food as possible—more than 300 million pounds since the start of the pandemic—to help New Yorkers in need put meals on their tables. City Harvest will rescue and deliver 75 million pounds of food this year, sustaining food rescue and delivery operations nearly 20% above pre-pandemic levels to meet the increased need. The Cohen Community Food Rescue Center, developed with generous support from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, has been designed to accommodate the growth of the organization’s operational capacity to meet current and future levels of need and features a professional-grade demonstration kitchen and event space built from recycled materials.

“City Harvest was born when a handful of New Yorkers stepped up to tackle food waste and hunger at the same time and help feed their neighbors in need,” said City Harvest CEO Jilly Stephens. “Forty years later, our food rescue operation has moved from the back of a station wagon to become a pillar of New York City, rescuing and delivering more than a billion pounds of food to our neighbors in need. City Harvest has always been about neighbors helping neighbors, and now the Cohen Community Food Rescue Center will allow us to serve even more of our fellow New Yorkers who are experiencing food insecurity by expanding our capabilities and scaling our operations even more efficiently. We are incredibly grateful to Steven and Alexandra Cohen, our partners, and countless supporters who made the Cohen Community Food Rescue Center possible. As the need for emergency food continues to stay far above pre-pandemic levels, our new, sustainable headquarters will help us meet the need in our city—one day, one meal, one New Yorker at a time.”

Located at 52nd Street and 2nd Avenue in the waterfront neighborhood of Sunset Park, the building was first constructed in the late 19th century as a temporary repair shop for the Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company. Now restored and expanded, the new center is 50% larger than the organization’s previous warehouse space in Long Island City. The facility will allow City Harvest to dramatically expand its capacity to host volunteers for hands-on repacking and feed New Yorkers more efficiently than ever before. The center will provide 65% more space for repacking rescued produce, more than double the number of loading docks to seven, house a dry storage area that can accommodate twice as much food, and feature a new and expanded flexible cooler section that will accommodate triple the amount of food requiring refrigeration. It will also include a new storefront to be programmed in partnership with input from the local Sunset Park Community.

Ennead Architects designed multiple facets of the building’s exterior, restoring and enhancing the original daylighting system—especially the clerestories, which had long since been covered over. As the Design Architect, Ennead also transformed the original timber framing into a dramatic, day-lit and efficient workplace, adding accessible entries, exterior canopies, and calibrating the new office modules and layout in accordance with the building’s unique wood structural system to further draw attention to its historical nature. Through Ennead’s design to bring the 19th century structure up to today’s energy standard, the new headquarters will also be LEED Gold certified, featuring many green initiatives including a future rooftop solar array, composting and recycling features throughout the facility, energy-efficient lighting, radiant heating and cooling, and electric charging stations. The building will feature original artworks from eight New York City artists including Cey Adams, Adrian Brandon, Sarah Brook, Jessica Dalrymple, Patti Grabel, Hektad, Sui Park, and Natasha May Platt.

The modern event space, which includes a professional-grade demonstration kitchen and rooftop terrace, is designed by Rockwell Group, and reflects City Harvest’s mission of reclamation through a selection of repurposed materials such as reclaimed wood flooring from barns in the Northeast U.S. and outdoor furniture made of recycled plastic. The venue is sleek and flexible for a variety of activities including cooking demos from notable chefs and gatherings with corporate volunteers, agency partners, supporters, and community members. The warm, residential, and inviting expo kitchen is intuitive and contemporary. Rockwell Group quoted the industrial history of Sunset Park in its design, with a palette that includes terracotta, burnished steel, and brushed copper. For the terrace, Rockwell Group and City Harvest commissioned New York-based artist Natasha May Platt to paint a wall mural that serves as a backdrop to an outdoor kitchen.

“I grew up in Washington Heights and New York will always be home to me,” said Alex Cohen, President, Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. “We are excited to partner with City Harvest on the Cohen Community Food Rescue Center and continue to support their efforts to feed thousands of New Yorkers in need. We are proud to be able to provide this support to City Harvest at such a critical time for our communities.”

“I’m just trying to survive,” said Victor, a participant at City Harvest’s Mobile Market in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. “I worry about my electricity, it’s high and that’s without heat. I don’t want to have to pay more. Rent, too. Everything is so high. [The food from City Harvest] means a lot. It’s very helpful, it’s something that you don’t have to take money out of your pocket to buy, you already have it there. It’s very helpful. I appreciate it very much.”

“In the 25 years my wife Sandra and I have been working with City Harvest, we’ve seen first-hand the incredible difference they make in the lives of New Yorkers in need,” said Chef Eric Ripert, the owner of world-renowned Le Bernardin and Vice Chair of City Harvest’s board. “Their new warehouse space in Sunset Park will empower City Harvest to rescue, store, and deliver twice as much food for our neighbors facing food insecurity. We look forward to continuing to help serve all the New Yorkers who rely on City Harvest today and in the decades to come.”

“Neighbors helping neighbors has always been at the core of City Harvest’s mission and our new home in Sunset Park will help us grow that mission for decades to come,” said Board Chair James Kallman. “Thanks to the steadfast support of countless New Yorkers, City Harvest will keep working to ensure all our neighbors have the food they need to thrive.”

“The Cohen Community Food Rescue Center is an incredibly significant and fulfilling project for Ennead Architects,” said Richard Olcott FAIA, Partner at Ennead Architects. “We are proud to have reclaimed and transformed a beautiful historic warehouse building into a state-of-the-art workplace, community resource, and distribution center with expanded food rescue capabilities. Our design approach took cues from the existing potential within this building, by revitalizing the space, filling it with daylight, and establishing an open and welcoming environment for all. City Harvest’s new home reflects the power and purpose of their mission and acts as a beacon of hope in the fight against food insecurity.”

“We were so honored to collaborate with City Harvest to bring our hospitality expertise to a brand new chapter in the organization’s community outreach,” says David Rockwell, founder and President, Rockwell Group. “Because of City Harvest’s inextricable ties to the City and its mission of reclamation, we wanted to evoke the industrial history of Sunset Park in our design of the event space and expo kitchen.”

“We are proud to be part of this important project for City Harvest. Partnering with JLL, Ennead Architects, Rockwell Group and Shawmut Design and Construction to execute this innovative facility allows City Harvest to continue supporting New Yorkers in need, and will serve the organization for years to come,” said Damian Melo, AIA, Studio Manager, Interior Architecture & Design of Ware Malcomb.


About City Harvest
City Harvest is New York’s first and largest food rescue organization, helping to feed millions of New Yorkers who struggle to put meals on their tables. This year, we will rescue 75 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food and deliver it—free of charge—to more than 400 food pantries, soup kitchens, community partners and our own Mobile Markets across the five boroughs. We work alongside our community partners to boost community capacity, expand nutrition education, and strengthen local food systems. For 40 years, City Harvest has always been there to feed our city—one day, one meal, one New Yorker at a time. To learn more, please visit

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