Hearty Start: Feeding the Homeless of NYC One Breakfast Sandwich at a Time

July 20, 2015

5:00 pm

Three dollars can go a long way –- it definitely won’t break the bank, but it can help feed the homeless of New York City. Last year, Teddy Fitzgibbons was walking to work, eating his daily bacon, egg and cheese, when a homeless man asked, “are you going to finish that?”

Fitzgibbons gave the man the rest of his sandwich, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last time he made a difference.

“For the next couple of months and on my way to work I just bought two breakfast sandwiches. I had one of the sandwiches wrapped and cut in half so that I could give out two half sandwiches on the way to work,” says Fitzgibbons.

After giving away breakfast sandwiches on his morning walk for a few months, Fitzgibbons had the idea to turn his small act of kindness of into a non-profit called Hearty Start.

According to the company’s site, there are almost 60,000 people who are homeless in New York City, but Hearty Start makes it easy to ensure that the homeless are fed on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Here’s How Hearty Start Works:

  • Donate a Meal Plan and choose a breakfast sandwich: you can donate (1) egg and cheese, (2) bacon, egg and cheese or (3) sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches. All sandwiches cost $3.
  • Pick Your Frequency: Choose how often you want to donate a sandwich (Monthly, Weekly , Daily ) and make your donation online.

Additionally, instead of partnering with large brands, the charity has partnered with local businesses such as Hamptons Marketplace and Le Basket.

“We aren’t getting micro-waved, unwrapped, six dollar sandwiches, these are freshly made from locally owned businesses and delis,” explains Fitzgibbons who says in their first week of business they’ve had more than 4,000 sandwiches donated online.

Changing the Way Millennials Give Back

The traditional model of making donations to charities hasn’t quite worked with millennials – especially because our generation can’t always see how organizations are spending money.

“If you are someone who wants to make a donation somewhere and you donate 60 to 100 bucks, and maybe you sign up for their newsletter, the charity is 60 dollars richer today but in 6 months they are no better off,” says Fitzgibbons who is originally from Kansas City.

If you visit the Hearty Start site, you’ll see fun images and fast facts that pertain to the millennial generation such as “you can feed three people in need for the price of a beer in NYC!”

Essentially, the team is encouraging millenials to donate by using examples from our everyday and social activities to show that a little money can go a long way.

“Giving back should be a rewarding and fun experience,” says Fitzgibbons who moved to New York City after graduating from Middlebury College. “I wanted to make it as much about that as possible so you have the power to choose your favorite sandwich and how often you can afford to donate it.”

More About the Team and Hearty Start



Fitzgibbons is founder of Hearty Start. According to the charity's website bio, his breakfast sandwich of choice is bacon, egg and cheese.

Along with Fitzgibbons, the team includes Alex Mines, Arielle Aurrichio, and Harrison Smith. While Hearty Start is currently only in Manhattan, the team sees an opportunity to expand to Brooklyn and the Bronx – and other locations where there is a large concentration of homeless people.

“We are hoping to expand when the time comes, but we are focused on expanding throughout New York and just building a scalable and continuous cycle to make a difference in the hometown where we started,” says Fitzgibbons.

Unlike most young entrepreneurs, Fitzgibbons didn’t start his business for a big payout, but started a non-profit to give back to the community.

“This really wasn’t about making money for me. I don’t pay myself any salary. I sort of realized that this was an opportunity, much like any other business,” says Fitzgibbons. “The opportunity was to really feed people in need that were everywhere in New York.”

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Amanda Quick is a tech/startup reporter covering young entrepreneurs for Tech Cocktail. She's also interested in covering apps, emerging technology, IoT and beauty & wellness. Amanda is currently in grad school at Syracuse University studying Information Management. In the past she has interned at NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, Brand-Yourself, and the Times Leader Newspaper as well as worked at WWNY-TV and the StartFast Venture Accelerator in Upstate New York. Amanda is originally from Kansas City, MO but has also lived in Canton, MA and Scranton, PA. To learn more you can visit Like Amanda on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.