Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project (YHHAP)


Our Mission:

The Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project is a student-run not-for-profit organization that works on behalf of New Haven’s homeless and near-homeless communities. Through direct service, fundraising, education, and advocacy, we aim to alleviate the immediate effects of homelessness while working to address its root causes and pursue long-term solutions.

Our Activities:

Elm City Echo
Direct Service
The Echo empowers individuals through the process of sharing while centralizing creators’ voices. Since 2011, student volunteers have worked with individuals experiencing extreme poverty and homelessness to record and publish the prose, poetry, and artwork. Each collaboration begins with volunteers visiting one of our community partners (Columbus House or Fellowship Place) to facilitate the storytelling process. Once a semester, we publish the pieces in a literary magazine that is freely distributed around New Haven.

Yale Community Kitchen
Direct Service
One of YHHAP's most popular projects, Yale Community Kitchen (YCK) is Yale’s student-run soup kitchen on campus. We serve food donated by Yale Dining on Friday on Saturday evenings in the United Parish House across from TD, the satellite location of the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK). In response to the pandemic, we adapted our project to public health guidelines and now serve bagged to-go meals donated by the organizations above. We are also reducing our number of volunteers and limiting interaction with guests in respect of social distancing guidelines. Volunteers will set up service tents outside and package food.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
Direct Service
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a nation-wide program founded by the IRS in 1971. Through VITA, IRS-certified volunteers provide free tax services for low-to-moderate income families. VITA helps community members who (1) generally make $55,000 or less, (2) have disabilities, or (3) speak limited English. In this way, VITA offers accurate filing services while saving clients tax preparation fees.

Yale students operate one of the most active and dedicated VITA centers in the New Haven region. Led by students from all across the university, Yale VITA expands access to vital tax services, leaving a large, quantifiable impact for those in need. In the Spring, the Yale VITA site operates six days a week out of the Ives Main Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library system. Our site welcomes non-English speakers, and encourages taxpayers to come in all throughout tax season.

Big Sibs
Direct Service
Through this weekly program, YHHAP volunteers visit LifeHaven shelter to offer homework help and, more importantly, to provide an environment where kids can be kids again.

Kitchen to Kitchen (K2K)
Direct Service
The main purpose of Kitchen to Kitchen (K2K) is to reduce the amount of waste generated in Yale Dining Halls. Each weekday (except for Friday), we deliver extra food from the dining halls to the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (called DESK). DESK aims to serve those living in poverty or facing homelessness by providing food assistance and services that promote health, community, and equity. Through help from K2K, DESK provides nutritious evening meals along with a safe and welcoming space for all.

Restaurant Rescue Project (RRP)
Direct Service
By partnering with receivers such as halfway houses and soup kitchens, RRP saves food that would otherwise be thrown away at the end of each working day. RRP shift-runners transfer food from restaurants on a daily basis, saving on average 100 pounds every week.

Community Health Care Van (CHCV)
Direct Service
The Community Health Care Van was created by Dr. Frederick Altice of the Yale AIDS Program in 1993 and assists people impacted by HIV/AIDS, illicit drug use, homelessness and mental illness. The van overcomes traditional medical care barriers by bridging the gap to link patients to medical and social services.

Clothing Closet
Direct Service
Anyone can donate – our clothing donation bin is located on Old Campus, adjacent to Dwight Hall. Here, Yale students and New Haven residents donate new or gently used shoes, clothing, and accessories. Each week, volunteers fill up a Dwight Hall car with these items and drive them to Loaves and Fishes, an organization that works below St. Paul & St. James Episcopal Church to serve New Haven’s homeless and impoverished populations. We also donate to Youth Continuum, a non-profit dedicated to eliminating youth homelessness in Connecticut. Occasionally, the Clothing Closet also receives and completes donation pick-up requests from students and local residents.

No Closed Doors (NCD)
Direct Service
No Closed Doors plays a crucial role in the New Haven area, serving as the only place where un- and underemployed residents can walk in and receive case-management help on a regular basis. Housed in the New Haven Works office at 205 Whitney Ave (by the School of Management), we receive a steady flow of clients looking for assistance with things ranging from navigating the internet to filling out job applications to writing resumes and cover letters. Volunteers work one or more hours a week. Our work is of large scale and impact: dozens of residents visit us each week, and hundreds each year, many of whom have previously found jobs with our support.

The Yale Hunger and Homeless Action Project Fast is YHHAP’s largest fundraiser of the year, and the largest student-run fundraiser on Yale’s campus. Once every semester, over 50% of the Yale student body donates their Yale Dining meal swipes for the day of the YHHAP Fast ahead of time. During the Fast, students forego their usual dining hall meal and eat out, often at one of the locally owned New Haven businesses that sponsor the Fast through in-kind food donations, lump sums, or student discounts during the Fast.

The monetary equivalent of these unused swipes — more than $10,000 per Fast — provides the greater part of funding for a plethora of YHHAP’s programs and initiatives. These programs and initiatives range from the Restaurant Rescue Project to No Closed Doors. A successful Fast is critical for a successful YHHAP, and the fundraiser depends entirely on the support and participation of the broader Yale and New Haven community.

Student Leaders:

Luis Guevara-Flores - Co-Coordinator/Co-President Kaci Xie - Co-Coordinator/Co-President

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