NDS started as a program of the Cardinal’s Commission on Human Relations in 1971. It was called the CCHR Food Program.

Its initial task was to provide government funded, hot lunches to inner city parochial schools. It had no money other than government reimbursement. It created the “cup can” lunch system where individual sized cans of stew were were heated and served to children which, combined with other food items, qualified for government meal reimbursement.

In 1972-1973 the CCHR Food Program was serving 35 schools with 1,000,000 lunches and 400,000 breakfasts a year, of which 99% were free or reduced price. NDS had also started its Neighborhood Nutrition Program creating four food buying clubs.

In the following year the CCHR Food Program was set up as its own agency as NDS. This year NDS, at the request of Catholic Social Services, organized and operated the government funded, elderly nutrition program at St. Rita’s Senior Citizens Center in South Philadelphia.

In 1975 St. Rita’s was turned over to CSS to operate. NDS started a program to develop urban vegetable gardens and started six of these gardens.

In 1977 NDS started its summer meals program providing meals to 42 sites.

By 1978 the responsibility for the urban vegetable gardens had been assumed by the Urban Gardening Program of the Cooperative Extension Service. Also, during 1978, NDS started its Farmers Tailgate Markets, provided government funded training and technical assistance to 18 Community Action Program through out Pennsylvania, and, at the request of Catholic Social Services, started a two year program to provide nutrition related life skills to newly arrived immigrants from Southeast Asia.

In November of 1979 the Community Food Distribution Centers Program (now the Community Food Program) of the Cardinal’s Commission on Human Relations was transferred to NDS. This program collected 270,000 pounds of food and distributed it to 33 locations.

By 1980 NDS was providing 50 schools with 800,000 lunches, 100,000 breakfasts, and 200,000 special milks. The summer program was providing 107 sites with 180,000 lunches, 67,000 breakfasts, and 150,000 snacks. It was transferring the training of the Community Action Program to the newly formed Pennsylvania Coalition on Food and Nutrition. A Tailgate Market Coalition was established to assume some of the administrative load of running the tailgate markets. The food buying club program was still active but now was just training and technical assistance.

In 1980 NDS staff set up the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank.

In 1982, at the request of Catholic Social Services and other agencies, including Jewish Family Services and Episcopal Community Services, NDS started to act as a conduit to channel to these agencies government monies for homeless prevention. This activity lasted for nine years; in 1991 it was transferred to the Urban Coalition.

By 1984 NDS had ended its direct involvement with the tailgate markets and buying clubs but was starting an interfaith revolving loan fund in to encourage the development of supermarkets in the inner city. This fund lasted for four years assisting two supermarkets to get established. The summer meals program was now providing 367 sites with 1,400,000 lunches and 800,000 breakfasts. School meals were providing 44 schools with 650,000 lunches, 70,000 breakfast and 60,000 special milks.

In the 1985-1986 fiscal year, NDS staff set up the SHARE Food Program of Philadelphia.

In the next year NDS started its Child Care Meals Program providing one location with 12,000 lunches and 10,000 breakfasts. The following year NDS assisted the Bernadine Center in Chester City to set up the nation’s first supercupboard program.

By 1990 NDS was providing meals to 47 schools, 25 child care centers, 300 summer sites, and community food to 60 locations. In this year NDS began as the national site of the Homeless Demonstration Pilot Program to provide government funded meals to children in homeless shelters.

The following year, at the request of Catholic Social Services, NDS took over the sponsorship of the government food program in 23 residential institutions for children.

In 1994 the homeless demonstration project became a regular government funded program available to all across the nation. Also in this year, NDS changed its way of managing the special milk program going from 66,000 milks in a year to 500,000.

In 1995 Institutional Food Service, an agency of the Archdiocese providing food to 24 Catholic high schools, was put under the direction of NDS. At the same time NDS was providing meals to 53 elementary schools, 59 child care centers, 556 summer sites, 4 homeless shelters, 23 milk only schools. It is also distributing community food equaling 2,000,000 meals to 100 feeding sites and managing the government meal program in 27 residential institutions for children.

In 1996 NDS assisted in the contracting out of the food service for the high schools to a food service management company and the termination of Institutional Food Service.

In 1998 NDS celebrated the 25th anniversary of its creation as a separate agency within the Archdiocese. Over 500 persons attended an interfaith service presided over by His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua and the reception that followed. In this year NDS started providing the lunch and breakfast programs to Charter Schools and the After School Snack Program in Schools.

1999 NDS begins the federally funded Nutrition Education Program to encourage children to select and consume all the food components in the school lunch. NDS started providing the At-Risk After School Snack Program to sites providing after school programs to children.

The year 2000 finds NDS serving 124 elementary schools, 60 child care centers, 5 homeless shelters with children, 65 sites serving “at-risk” snacks, 30 milk only schools, 34 residential institutions, and 611 summer sites. It also continues to distribute community food equaling 2,000,000 meals to 100 food cupboards and soup kitchens. NDS’ budget exceeds $10 million for the first time. It assists approximately 95,000 unduplicated persons a year.

In 2004 NDS begins providing “suppers” to after school programs. 25 community groups providing after school programming switched from the after school snack to this more substantial meal. NDS also began collaborating with the Office of Catholic Education to plan Wellness efforts for the School Wellness Policy. It also expanded its web page to include an electronic version of the Community Food Resource Guide. The responsibility for the archdiocesan promotion of Catholic Relief Services is assigned to NDS.

2005 was the first year that the Summer Feeding Program adopted Peace as its theme. This theme was embraced by the summer sites and children were encouraged to be peacemakers and to spread the message of peace in their communities.

In 2006 the School Wellness Policy was presented in partnership with the Office of Catholic Education to the principals of Archdiocesan elementary schools. The Policy promotes a healthy school environment and the education of the whole child- body, mind, and spirit. Policy standards address student wellness, proper nutrition, and regular physical activity as related to a student’s physical well-being, growth, development, and readiness to learn. Schools are to provide an environment in which students can learn about and participate in positive dietary and lifestyle practices.

The year 2008 marks the 35th anniversary of NDS as an agency of the Archdiocese. NDS Director, Pat Temple-West, received an honorary degree from Neumann College, recognizing his outstanding contribution to the anti-hunger community in the Philadelphia area.