Specialty Food Magazine

FALL 2017

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 25 of 107

EAST COAST TAKES ON WEST DURING EMBRACE HUNGER RELIEF MONTH T he Specialty Food Foundation's month-long Hunger Relief Challenge kicked off in September as a part of Embrace Hunger Relief Month. The Foundation is asking SFA members to participate in an East versus West Coast showdown through volunteering at local food banks, donating product to local food banks or food drives, or donating to hunger-relief charities. SFA members have the entire month of September to make a difference and share it with the specialty food community via social media to indicate how many hours they've volunteered, pounds of food they've donated, or the amount of money contributed, using the #EHRM17 hashtag. The Foundation then will tally which coast has achieved the most. Members of the SFA staff will also be participating in Embrace Hunger Relief Month by volunteering at a City Harvest Mobile Market in Long Island City, Queens, to provide fresh produce to market-goers, free of charge. Embrace Hunger Relief Month in April 2017 was a success, with the West Coast winning the showdown against the East Coast. Overall, the results of the month added up to $2,340 in donations, 224 hours of volunteer time, and over 18,000 pounds of product donated across the country.—Sara Kay For more information on how to participate in Embrace Hunger Relief Month, contact Laura Lozada at llozada@ specialtyfood.com. and soup kitchens where we deliver the food." On collection day, volunteers at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, run by Chef Gregory Silverman, executive director, worked until 11 p.m., unloading the donations that came flowing down a chute to be shelved, refrigerated, and weighed. Some of the same volunteers who unloaded well into the night (some of whom are customers themselves) returned at 5:30 the next morning to open at 6. WSCAH, located in a church basement on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, was the first pantry to operate as a grocery store does, allowing customers to shop as they would in a regular store. With a yearly budget of just over $3 million, this pantry's model is based on the organization's goal of helping those in need while treat- ing them with dignity and respect, making the grocery shopping experience as normal as possible. Shopping the Pantry Wednesday is the busiest day of the week, and the end of the month tends to be the busiest time, as customers' food stamps run low or may have run out altogether. On the day following collection, the waiting area was packed with customers waiting for their number to be called so they could take a cart and shop for three days-worth of food for their families. The crowd was as diverse as New York City itself, with customers of varying age groups and all backgrounds represented. A volunteer led cus- tomers in stretching exercises to help pass the time. Inside the store, shelves are stacked neatly with cans, boxes, and jars of goods, and bags of dried beans; there is also fresh produce. WSCAH has a refrigerator filled with fresh, cold milk and other dairy products, such as Fage yogurts (with whom the pantry also has a business rela- tionship, procuring dairy at a discount). Another factor that sets this pantry apart: the presence of fresh animal proteins. Stacks of packaged chicken filled one cooler, mostly procured from the Summer Show. Customers shop using a points system that is based on the size of their family, and food groups, to ensure a balanced diet as per the MyPlate recommendations. If customers don't use all their points, the cashier will send them back, pointing out that they can still purchase something—such as another can or two of vegetables, another pound of greens, or a loaf of bread. In addition to being a food pantry, WSCAH runs a culinary program. Customers enrolled in the program make lunch for the staff daily, and many eventually turn these skills into income, graduating to jobs in foodser- vice, including restaurants, hospitals, soup kitchens, and food manufacturing facilities. When asked about plans for the pantry, Silverman says, "We have a 32-foot mobile food pantry coming on board this summer so we can bring healthy, free, fresh foods to our customers where they live, giving conve- nience and support close to people in Upper Manhattan, South Bronx, and East Harlem. An elderly person in the South Bronx shouldn't have to schlep all the way down simply to get groceries." The 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show food rescue was a resounding success based on the numbers. But success goes beyond numbers. On the way out of WSCAH's store, a customer was overheard saying to volunteers, "Thank you so much. You don't even know." Hopefully, fewer people will have to know. —Andrea Meyer To learn more about the Specialty Food Foundation, please visit specialtyfoodfoundation.org The journey of food to recipients involves hundreds of volunteers and thousands of hours: collecting, bagging, sorting, loading, unloading, sorting again, and finally going to those who need the food. FALL 2017 23

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