A full plate
FeedingNYC founder Rob LoCascio, ’90, works to bring Thanksgiving dinner to hungry families
More than a decade ago, Rob LoCascio, ’90, had an idea: He would hand-deliver Thanksgiving dinners to New York families.
LoCascio, the founder and CEO of LivePerson Inc., a company offering cloud-based communication solutions for businesses to connect with their customers in real-time, invited his friends and colleagues to help him take meals to 40 families in all five New York City boroughs.
Since then, the grass-roots nonprofit LoCascio founded—FeedingNYC—has provided more than 20,000 Thanksgiving meals to families.
During the region’s recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the need for the meals was especially great.
“The number of families in need remains consistently high in New York City, which was only exacerbated by the devastation of the hurricane,” LoCascio said. “Through FeedingNYC, we hope to connect with these families and bring some encouragement every year by delivering a full Thanksgiving meal to their doorstep.”
Among the families FeedingNYC has served are people in two shelters for families displaced by Hurricane Sandy. The organization has also serving prepared meals at a community center in the Bronx for displaced families who weren’t able to prepare Thanksgiving meals at home.
Loyola magazine asked LoCascio to give some insight into his role with FeedingNYC.
What inspired you to start FeedingNYC?
It was the year of 9/11, and I truly felt the need to connect with fellow New Yorkers, especially those in need. I gathered with some friends and employees that Thanksgiving and we decided to assemble some Thanksgiving meals ourselves and delivered them to about 40 homeless families that year.
Was it difficult to get underway the first year?
My employees and I brought together what resources we could to be able to bring the joy of Thanksgiving to 40 families. It was more than worth the small effort to bring these families some hope on a special day.
Is it easier every year—or are there new challenges?
As we grow in scale and demand, there are always new challenges—finding food, volunteers, transportation, etc. In 2010, we provided dinners to every single shelter family in New York City which was both a major undertaking and accomplishment. But we’ve been very fortunate that every year we have an overwhelming number of volunteers who are passionate and willing to tackle this project with us.
Did you expect it to be an annual event?
We hoped it would be an ongoing opportunity to connect with the community—and we’re grateful that we are now in our 11th year*.
It has to require a lot from you—and you have a demanding career and busy life otherwise. What keeps you going?
My company’s mission, as well as my own personal mission, is to create meaningful connections in the world. That’s what our technology does—we help our customers connect meaningfully with consumers. And this is why we’ve also established FeedingNYC. We want to reach out and create relationships with those in need, meet people face to face, have conversations, rather than mail in a donation. Every year I meet an incredible individual that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
What does your Thanksgiving Day look like?
I make sure that I’m spending my Thanksgiving with my loved ones—my family members, who—by the way—are co-organizers of FeedingNYC.
Is there anything else you would like to tell people about FeedingNYC?
Whether it’s joining a charity during the holidays, or organizing your own effort, I really encourage each and every one to reach out and connect with someone else in your community. There is so much to be gained from meaningfully connecting with your community members—great change can happen. When I founded this cause, we delivered just 40 dinners. Now we’ve organization has delivered over 35,000 Thanksgiving dinners.
Since it was founded in 2001, FeedingNYC has been connecting with families in need throughout New York City. Each year, FeedingNYC hand delivers nearly 3,000 Thanksgiving dinners. Learn more about FeedingNYC— including how you can donate, volunteer, and make a difference to New York families in need this Thanksgiving.
Editor's Note: This story was first written in 2012, just two weeks after Hurricane Sandy. It has been updated as of November 2014.