Bank on It: A Food Bank Blog
Food Bank For New York City is so grateful for everything you do over the holiday season – and so are the 1.5 million New Yorkers who rely on our programs and services. It is because of YOU, our supporters, that the 1 in 5 children who rely on soup kitchens and food pantries in NYC have the nourishment they need to grow healthy and strong. It is because of YOU that veterans returning from overseas will have somewhere to turn if he or she find themselves struggling to afford food.
|Cheryl with a carton of fat-free milk from the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen & Food Pantry
And it is because of YOU that Cheryl has the below story to share. Please take a moment to read below, and learn what a difference your support truly makes. Thank you!
"October was the first time I came for groceries at the [Community Kitchen & Food Pantry]. I get food stamps, but sometimes it's not enough. It's a help, but when I get to the end of the month, sometimes I need some extra help. So I come here.
The pantry helped me a lot with Thanksgiving. The rice and chicken I picked up at the pantry made the meal. I had a really good holiday because of it.
I think the way they do it here is good. Instead of just picking up a bag, I can pick what I need. It’s just like the supermarket.
Please keep it going. This is so great for the community. It helps a lot of people get by, and I am real thankful that it's here for us."
By Jamee Brody
One of the times I most often think about the New Yorkers who rely on the Food Bank is when I go grocery shopping. I try to clip coupons as much as possible, and do at times feel I have to be vigilant with my food budget and avoid all the treats calling out to me from the snack aisle – but in the end I know that my cupboards will always be full. Too many New Yorkers don’t have that luxury.
That’s why I love the Food Bank’s Check-Out Hunger campaign. From October to January, when you go shopping you’ll find one of the easiest ways to give I’ve ever seen – just look for our Check-Out Hunger placards at the register and have your cashier scan the bar code on our donation slips. A donation will then be added to your bill – and remember, a donation of just $5 helps the Food Bank provide 25 meals to New Yorkers in need. I did mention it’s easy, right?
Last year, Check-Out Hunger raised more than 850,000 meals for New Yorkers in need with the support of more than a dozen supermarkets including ShopRite, Foodtown and Fairway. This year, I am excited to see what we can achieve with specialty retailers Fishs Eddy and Eataly joining our supermarket partners to help our most vulnerable neighbors.
And thanks to Eataly, Check-Out Hunger isn’t just at the check-out line – it’s online. The 'Eataly for the Food Bank For New York City' campaign gives online shoppers a chance to donate to the Food Bank while shopping for delicious Italian goodies. So while you are at Eataly.com getting the perfect Italian inspired gift box for the 'Italian' cook in your family you can also add to your shopping cart '25 meals for a child in need'. I hope with the support of follower New Yorkers and nearly 200 participating specialty/supermarkets stores to have another successful Check-Out Hunger year.
Visit Eataly.com and shop 'gift boxes' and add to your cart a gift for New Yorkers in need.
To find a participating Check-Out Hunger location near you please visit http://www.foodbanknyc.org/events/check-out-hunger
By Daniel Buckley
Earlier this month, when one of the worst storms in recent history laid waste to large swaths of land from Virginia to Vermont, thousands of families were dislocated, experienced flood damage or lost power for several days. Some Congress Members, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, suggested that disaster aid distributed by the government should be offset by an equal amount of federal spending cuts.
You may be asking what this has to do with the Food Bank For New York City. Well, first, Congress passed a major, $2.4-trillion deficit reduction bill this summer that puts funding for programs that provide assistance to our most vulnerable neighbors at risk, so when discussion turns to additional federal spending cuts, we pay close attention. Second, as a key piece of our city’s disaster response network, we care deeply about the operations of government relief programs.
But perhaps most importantly, this move to require spending cuts in order to provide emergency relief for Americans hurt by a natural disaster is a poignant example of the importance of our country’s entitlement programs – including food stamps (SNAP) – which could be threatened in D.C.’s deficit reduction talks.
The annual budgets of entitlement programs are not set in stone. The reason for this is that entitlement programs are designed to respond to changing conditions, growing when need increases and shrinking when no longer needed, unencumbered by budget limitations or political infighting.
In the days after the storm, as families assessed the damage, New York and other affected states began issuing replacement SNAP benefits to food stamp recipients who lost food purchased with their food stamps as a result of the storm – an effort that the Food Bank worked hard to support in areas of New York City that experienced power outages. . In the hardest hit areas, Disaster SNAP extended benefits to households that suddenly found themselves in need of food assistance.
If SNAP were not an entitlement program, this immediate response to a spike in need would not be possible. If the SNAP budget were limited or cut so that it could no longer have this flexibility, it would take an act of Congress to authorize emergency spending – and families in need would have to go without food assistance while waiting for that process to conclude. If your county was hit by a sudden storm like Irene, if large layoffs were experienced after an unexpected recession or if you simply fell on hard times, programs like SNAP are there to make sure you and your family will have enough to eat.
While the similarities between hurricane relief and the relief the Food Bank provides year-round to New Yorkers in need may not be immediately apparent – both must be able to assess the level of need in affected communities and respond in kind. If this is not allowed to happen without obstruction, people could be forced to go without the food they need to get by and recover.
Want your elected officials to protect important food assistance programs? Send a message to Congress now!
Tangy Mama here! We may have met at a past year’s festival, but in case not I should introduce myself. Not only am I the friendliest dumpling you’ve ever met and the mascot of the Annual Tang’s Natural NYC Dumpling Festival, but I’m also a proud member of the fight to end hunger!
|Tangy Mama, Mascot of the Annual Tang's Natural NYC Dumpling Festival
Luckily our 3rd Annual Tang’s Natural NYC Dumpling Festival is right around the corner, so if we haven’t met I hope to see you there! This year’s event, on September 17, is sure to be a dough-ball of fun with eleven restaurant booths serving an entire array of international dumpling varieties. They say “it takes one to know one,” and this little dumpling-lady knows her dumpling business and says that this festival shouldn’t be missed!
I love seeing the crowds of people enjoying such delicious dumplings, all while supporting one of my favorite non-profit organizations: Food Bank For New York City. There are so many booths to choose from, including miss Korea BBQ, Veselka and Ivy Bakery. The scheduled live performances are sure to please: the talented dance ensemble, Lei Pasifika is sure to impress the crowds with their Polynesian dance. If I’m a lucky dumpling, maybe I’ll learn a new dance step or two!
But that’s not all! This year, the Chef One Dumpling Eating Contest, one of our featured events, is in its 8th year! Additionally, dumpling history will be made, as Guinness World Records® will also be there to preside over an attempt to see who can set the new record of “Most Dumplings Eaten in 2 Minutes”! My goodness!
A whole festival devoted to dumplings – I couldn’t be more excited – especially since all proceeds benefit the Food Bank For New York City. Last year, we raised more than 220,000 meals for New Yorkers who struggle to afford food. I can’t wait to see how we do this September! So save the date, bring your family and friends out to Sara D. Roosevelt Park on E. Houston Street! I hope to see you there!
By Noemie Craven,
How many ways can you cook a hot dog? At least 24, as will be showcased at the Great Hot Dog Cookoff at Kelso of Brooklyn on July 23. The event, with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting the Food Bank For New York City, features amateur chefs putting their culinary prowess to the test as they grill, chop and transform Applegate Organic links in hopes of winning one the coveted prizes: Best in Show, Beta Dog (2nd place), Best Working Dog, Best Toy Dog and Top Dog (crowd favorite).
Judging from this year's contestants: Disco Dog,Panuchos Perros, You're Going To Need A Bigger Boat, Frank Seoul-Natra, Snap, Crackle, Dog! just to name a few, your taste buds are in for ride. As you're loading up on these one-of-a-kind concoctions, try to save room (a challenge - we know) for dessert: oh-so-delicious samples from SoCo Creamery.
Brooklyn summers can get hot but thankfully, our gracious host, Kelso, will be pouring their tasty brew all afternoon and P&H Soda will be using SodaStream to create fizzy refreshers.
George Duran, host of TLC's Ultimate Cake-Off, will be on hand to keep things moving as the event's MC. And if you want to start working off those extra calories, DJ Rabbi Darkside will be getting everyone grooving throughout the event.
While you chow down to your heart’s content at the Great Hot Dog Cookoff, it should warm your heart as well to know that each $45 ticket you purchase will help provide 225 free meals for New Yorkers in need. Because the Food Bank receives donated food and purchases wholesale food, we are able to leverage every dollar donated to provide five meals.
Check out photos from last year's event to really get your mouth watering and get your tickets now before the event sells out!
A whole afternoon of fun benefiting a great cause - what more could you ask for? See you at the Cookoff!
Noemie Craven is the Food Bank’s Campaigns & Special Events Manager.
by Ashley Goforth
As you head off to celebrate the Fourth of July with picnics and fireworks in honor of America’s Independence, we want to thank you for the independence your support provides.
Thanks to your support of all our programs, we are able to work hard to give New Yorkers the independence they need to get back on their feet, get the food they need and the nutrition education that ensures a healthy future. Through our income support efforts – food stamp initiatives and the Free Income Tax Service program – we help New Yorkers work toward the monetary independence they need to avoid choosing between paying for groceries and paying rent. Through our nutrition education programs, we encourage the approximately 30,000 CookShop graduates to gain independence to make healthier choices in their daily lives. Through our citywide network of soup kitchens and food pantries, we help New Yorkers in need see that they don’t have to sacrifice their independence for food.
The Food Bank depends on supporters like you – whether you make a monthly donation, volunteer at our Community Kitchen or contact your Congress members to stop budget cuts to the federal emergency food program – to continue to provide the services and support that make up the safety net against hunger.
We thank you for everything you do to ensure that more New Yorkers can celebrate and cherish the independence the Food Bank works hard to provide.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday this weekend, from all of us here at the Food Bank!
by Ashley Goforth
Food Bank For New York City would like to announce its endorsement of the ”Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act.” As our supporters know, the Food Bank works to educate members of the public and government officials at the city, state and federal levels to enlist their support in combating food poverty. To better understand the idea of a living wage and the Food Bank’s role in this effort, we asked Triada Stampas, Director of Governmental Relations & Public Education, to elaborate more on the campaign and the Food Bank’s mission to end food poverty.
What is a living wage? A living wage is the hourly wage rate necessary for a person to afford basic needs, like housing, food and health care. Because cost of living varies from place to place, the amount that would constitute a living wage in one city or area might be higher or lower than in another. In New York City, existing legislation has already defined the local living wage as $10/hour with benefits or $11.50/hour without benefits.
What is Living Wage NYC?
Living Wage NYC is a coalition of organizations that are working toward a living wage for all New Yorkers..
What is the Living Wage NYC proposing?
The campaign’s big push right now, which the Food Bank has endorsed, is for passage of the “Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act” (Int. 251-2010). The bill would require developers and major employers who receive government subsidies for economic development projects to guarantee that the jobs created by those projects will pay a living wage.
Why is the Food Bank involved?
The Food Bank strives every day not only to provide food to the 1.4 million New Yorkers who rely on our network of approximately 1,000 community-based member programs, but to tackle the financial, educational and public policy issues that perpetuate hunger and food poverty. Right now, New York City’s unemployment rate is still almost double what it was at the start of the recession, and the current minimum wage ($7.25/hr) is well below a living wage. So too many New Yorkers simply don’t have the resources to provide sufficient food for themselves and their families on a regular basis – in fact, our research shows 3 million New York City residents had difficulty affording food over the past year. Ensuring that those employers who receive city subsidies in turn provide a living wage to their employees is a significant step in the right direction – and if we are going to fulfill our mission of ending hunger in New York City, supporting work to secure the dignity and independence of a living wage for more New Yorkers is one of the most important things we can do.
by Ashley Goforth
As the Communications & Marketing Assistant at the Food Bank, I have the opportunity to hear about a lot of amazing opportunities going on to support not only the Food Bank For New York City but also the larger hunger relief community. My personal favorite are the ones that combine helping yourself and helping others in a quick and FREE way. Quick because time is a valuable asset (especially for New Yorkers, right?) and free because sometimes the only thing we can give to the causes we love is our support.
The Biggest Loser’s Pound For Pound Challenge is one of these opportunities. The Pound For Pound Challenge is dedicated to getting people to pledge to be bit healthier and lose a few pounds. It takes just a few seconds to select your state and your local food bank and take the pledge. And for each pound that you pledge for us, 11 cents will be donated to the Food Bank. Another great element is, if you are already at your ideal weight and fitness, you can pledge to maintain that weight and The Biggest Loser will still donate!
This is also great opportunity to help yourself. It’s an opportunity to make a promise to put your nutrition and health needs on your list of things to do this spring. The Food Bank is quite the advocate of making healthy choices. The Food Bank’s CookShop nutrition education program and our Change One Thing campaign all provide needed nutrition education to New Yorkers. And we are very proud to have won Feeding America’s Mightly Apple award for the most fresh produce collected for distribution five times in the past six years.
Aligned with our mission to provide New Yorkers with the tools they need for change – the Pound For Pound Challenge allows you to recognize that you want to strengthen your own nutrition education.
Who doesn’t love a free way to help fight hunger AND be active in your nutritional health? I don’t know about you, but to me it’s much more fulfilling to take the stairs everyday while reminding myself that I pledged to lose a few pounds in the name of hunger relief.
by Davinia Buckley
On Tuesday, December 7, the Food Bank For New York City achieved an “orange empire state of mind” by gathering 200 guests, including celebrity chefs, restaurateurs, TV personalities and Food Bank supporters like you atop the Empire State Building to launch its Culinary Council and raise funds and awareness for hunger relief. This newly formed council is made up of 36 of the best- known names in the culinary world including committee chair Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, Anthony Bourdain and Ted Allen to name a few.
Presented by the Condé Nast Food, this magical event kept true to it’s name: Eat. Celebrate. Support. Guests were treated to dishes prepared by the Culinary Council’s well-known chefs themselves. Delicacies included Pappa Col Pomodoro prepared by SD26 and butternut squash custard with milk chocolate caramel and cranberry gelee prepared by Double Crown. All participating chefs for the night included, Yann de Rochefort, David Burke, Brad Farmerie, Andrew Carmellini, Michael Schlow, Masaharu Morimoto, Tom Colicchio, Cesare Casella, Marisa May and Tim Buma.
The spirit of the night was captured perfectly with nothing less than the color orange. The Empire State Building was glowing orange inside and out (literally), bringing hunger awareness to all of New York City, by lighting up in orange for the seventh year in a row. Inside, the room had a warm orange glow, and in the words of Mario Batali himself, as he raised a toast, making orange not the color of hunger awareness, but the color of ending hunger all together.
As the holiday season draws near, we at the Food Bank have an additional reason to celebrate: the annual start of CookShop, which this year will reach record numbers of children, teens and adults throughout the city.
Our federally funded nutrition education program, CookShop helps teach low-income New Yorkers the skills and knowledge to make healthy food choices on a limited budget. Starting this December, approximately 30,000 New Yorkers – nearly twice as many as last year – will participate in hands-on workshops featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
In CookShop Classroom for Elementary School, participants will find out about where food comes from (hint: it’s not the fridge or the bodega!) and use their five senses to explore food up close. Participants in CookShop for Families will learn helpful nutrition tips like how to plan healthy and affordable meals at home. But the best part of CookShop, as our participants tell us time and again, is the cooking – and, of course, the tasting! No one puts it better than Mossiah, an elementary student at P.S. 307K in Brooklyn: “I learned in CookShop that when we are done we get to eat food and it tastes good. It tastes so good. I said, MMMMM.”
We look forward to working with teachers and students in more than 1,300 CookShop classrooms in the months to come!