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Photographs remind us of who we are and where we’ve been. But preserving memories through photography can be expensive, especially for those already struggling to pay for things like groceries and rent.

That’s why Food Bank established the “Portraits of Promise” initiative. On special occasions throughout the year, we invite our neighbors into our Community Kitchen in Harlem and other locations to have professional photographs taken with their loved ones and families, all at no charge to them. The goal is to provide each participant with a keepsake they can cherish for years and generations to come.

Though it may seem like a surprising service for a hunger relief organization like ours to offer, it’s just one of many programs we offer to meet the unique and varied needs of the communities we serve all across NYC. After all, our work at Food Bank isn’t just about providing our neighbors with food… it’s about providing them with dignity, care, and hope for a better future.

Martha Mae

When asked if she liked having her photograph taken, Martha answered with a wink: “No, but I’m going to enjoy this because I’ve got my red on and my fur coat on!” Though she may not usually step in front of the camera, Martha is a confident presence at Food Bank’s Senior Program, where she likes to spend time joking with her friends and our staff. “I just enjoy being with people,” she said of why she keeps coming back to Food Bank.


Gregory has been a regular at Food Bank’s Community Kitchen and Food Pantry in Harlem since 2015, relying on our services for food and housing assistance. Though he’s known for his impeccable style and colorful wit, he confided in us that this was the first photograph he’d had taken of himself since 1972 when his daughter was born. “I told the photographer that this is going right up on my Instagram for #BowTieTuesday!”


“I feel like I’m on TV,” Henrietta laughed after getting her photograph taken. When asked why she decided to join Food Bank for Portraits of Promise, she simply said, “It was something different to do. I’m 77-years-old and it’s easy to get used to the same routine. This was a new venture for me.” She’s bringing this sense of openness into 2022 and hopes that she’ll continue to have exciting experiences like this all year long.


Interested in supporting Portraits of Promise?

If your company or organization is interested in getting involved in our Portraits of Promise initiative, or if you’re an individual looking for more information, please contact Camesha Grant, Vice President of Community Connection and OutreachMember Services at

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