“We saw people digging through garbage cans and realized that these were our neighbors,” said Karen Altfest, one of the founders of the Yorkville Common Pantry in Manhattan. In 1980, Karen spearheaded a neighborhood effort to start the Yorkville Common Pantry, which was one of the first emergency food pantries in New York. That year, it served 30 families while operating out of the basement of a church.
More than 30 years later, the Yorkville Common Pantry, now known as the New York Common Pantry, feeds nearly 3 million meals to over 300,000 pantry visitors per year. Programs are aimed at establishing long-term independence and self-sufficiency, and include pantry food provisions, hot meals, case management services, and education about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.
Karen made a mark on the organization from the beginning, serving as its first president and first board chair. She has remained an active volunteer ever since. In addition to individually supporting the Pantry, Karen’s firm, Altfest Personal Wealth Management, is involved, too. The firm is a donor and its employees have volunteered more than 100 hours annually.
In 2012, Karen was honored as the winner of the Invest in Others Community Service Award for her work with the Pantry. With an average cost of 80 cents per pantry meal, the donation the New York Common Pantry received from Invest in Others went a long way towards ensuring food security for those it serves.
However, our impact doesn’t end there. We held our first Invest in Others Day of Service at the New York Common Pantry on October 1, 2015. An enthusiastic group of forty volunteers, including financial advisors and executives in the advisory industry, rolled up their sleeves for the day to help serve over 10,000 healthy meals to more than 900 food-insecure individuals.