Theater lovers and theater artists rallied together to help Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS provide a record $2,532,500 in grants to 127 food service and meal delivery programs in New York City and nationwide.
Despite the absence of full in-theater fundraising efforts for more than two years, this remarkable first step in Broadway Cares’ 2022 National Grants Program surpasses the amount given in 2021 and the pre-pandemic 2020 food grant rounds, both of which were records.
The 127 programs and organizations receiving the funding help underserved communities across the country connect with the vital resources they need to survive. The food grants ensure that those affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and other life-threatening illnesses can get access to healthy meals through food pantries, meal deliveries and congregate food programs.
“Nutrition and access to healthy meals are the crux of wellness,” Broadway Cares Executive Director Tom Viola said. “The effectiveness of vital medications is directly related to the food fueling our bodies. These organizations are making it possible for people to have a fighting chance at living a strong and healthy life, regardless of their circumstances.”
The $2.5 million awarded in this grant round is in addition to $5.7 million that has been awarded so far to The Actors Fund since October 1, 2021, the beginning of Broadway Cares’ fiscal year.
Between March 2020 and February 2022, Broadway Cares has awarded $35.1 million in grants to the The Actors Fund and 450 other social service organizations across the country.
In-theater fundraising on Broadway and across the country, which has been an integral component of Broadway Cares’ efforts for decades, has been on hiatus since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the industry almost two years ago. Although many shows finally returned to their stages last fall, Broadway Cares temporarily suspended its traditional red bucket appeals as the theater community worked to carefully and safely resume its eight-shows-a-week schedule.
The void of that in-theater fundraising hiatus was filled by the consistent generosity of donors and supporters of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the philanthropic heart of Broadway. The food grants were fueled by Broadway Cares’ year-end giving campaign, which raised $2.2 million leading into 2022.
The 127 organizations receiving grants are in 37 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., including 22 in New York City.
These organizations are based in cities and small towns, serving urban centers, rural communities and everything in between. The ultimate beneficiaries of the grants – the tens of thousands served by the organizations – will find comfort again through eating with neighbors, freedom from isolation thanks to daily home-delivered lunches and strength from a nutritious diet tailored specifically for them.
As one organization noted: “We’ve seen that a spark of connection, just a puff of hope, can become a bright flame. Simply being there – with a shared meal, an outstretched hand or a celebration of goal achieved – fans the flames of dignity and hope.”
The food grants were reviewed and awarded by a select committee of 16 Broadway actors and stage managers who have been integral in Broadway Cares’ fundraising efforts.
Additional grants will be awarded in spring 2022 to nationally recognized AIDS service organizations, health clinics and advocacy organizations; and in summer 2022 to social service organizations whose essential work provides direct services, emergency financial assistance, harm reduction programs and quality of life services.