Women’s History Month: Honoring Kathy Goldman & Agnes Molnar, New York Hunger Heroes
By Rachel Sabella, No Kid Hungry New York Director
I’ve spent the last 15 years dedicated to helping communities across New York – expanding after-school programs, providing teenagers with jobs, ensuring food pantries and soup kitchens had enough food to help New Yorkers, and now, connecting kids and families with meals. Behind every program and every organization were incredible leaders committed to fighting to help New Yorkers in need. I am so lucky to have learned from them and I carry the lessons they’ve taught me each and every day. But, as I reflect during Women’s History Month, two leaders and their legacy of fighting food insecurity stand out: Kathy Goldman and Agnes Molnar.
If you ask anyone in New York City about the history of the anti-hunger movement, the names “Kathy” and “Agnes” come up in every conversation! There’s no program or organization with an emphasis on nutrition programs that hasn’t been impacted by their vision and leadership. While running the Community Food Resource Center (CFRC, now a part of the Food Bank For New York City), they focused on policy change and direct service programs to help low-income New Yorkers including food stamps, child nutrition programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit and even running a soup kitchen. Their partnership helped New Yorkers enroll in programs that put food on the table and helped advocate for policy change to make those programs run more effectively and efficiently.
Child nutrition programs in New York City have also been touched by their work and vision. It was the efforts of Kathy and Agnes that convinced New York City officials to pilot free lunch in 1990 and offer a free breakfast to every student starting in 2003. Expanding summer meals sites beyond school buildings to parks, pools and public housing in New York City occurred because of their advocacy. Then in their “retirement” in 2010 they founded Community Food Advocates (CFA). In 2013, CFA launched the Lunch 4 Learning Campaign, a creative and strategic coalition who were successful in encouraging NYC to adopt the Community Eligibility Provision after a four year fight. When New York City adopted the Community Eligibility Provision in 2017, it meant that every student in the New York City public schools could now receive a free school breakfast AND a free school lunch. This didn’t happen overnight. Kathy and Agnes’s work over decades culminated in laying the groundwork for this incredible achievement.
I have so many things to thank Agnes Molnar and Kathy Goldman for. Thank you for your vision and leadership. Thank you for always fighting for New Yorkers struggling with hunger. Thank you for offering solutions and challenging government to do better by administering programs more effectively and robustly. Personally, I am so thankful to you both for being so generous with your knowledge and support. You’ve inspired and blazed a trail for countless women – like myself! – who work on nutrition programs. Especially during Women’s History Month let us all say thank you to Kathy Goldman and Agnes Molnar.
About No Kid Hungry
No child should go hungry in America. But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, 1 in 5 kids in New York could face hunger. No Kid Hungry New York is working to end childhood hunger by helping launch and improve programs that give all kids the healthy food they need to thrive. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry New York is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization committed to ending hunger and poverty. Join us at NoKidHungry.org