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BANK ON IT: Food Bank For New York City's Blog

Tang’s Natural NYC Dumpling Festival Mascot, “Tangy Mama”

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!

Mario Batali & Food Bank Cook Up New Nutrition Initiative

By Josh Wessler,

This week, in a joint venture with the Mario Batali Foundation, the Food Bank is launching an exciting new nutrition and health education program, Community CookShop, at food pantries and soup kitchens across the city.

The Community CookShop pilot program breaks new ground for the Food Bank. For the first time, our nutrition workshops will pair parents and caregivers with their children to learn and cook together. Also a first, the workshops will be available at several of our member programs — food pantries and soup kitchens — in all five boroughs. And finally, it is our first time partnering with the Mario Batali Foundation.

The Food Bank and the Mario Batali Foundation share a belief in the power of hands-on learning to equip families for a healthier future. Based on that belief, Community CookShop engages whole families in practicing strategies to get the most food at the best quality for the lowest cost. Community CookShop is modeled on the Food Bank’s successful CookShop program, the largest provider of nutrition education in New York City public schools. Like CookShop, the new Community program will use hands-on activities to enhance participants’ skills for maximizing their food budgets, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preparing tasty recipes.

All recipes for Community CookShop have been crafted by internationally-renowned chef, author and restaurateur, Mario Batali, who is also a dedicated member of Food Bank’s Board of Directors, the chair of our Culinary Council and an active proponent of child nutrition. All of Mario's CookShop recipes use nutritious, affordable ingredients that are available in local stores and food pantries throughout the city.

"Having been on the board and working with Food Bank for over 10 years, I feel honored and privileged to partner with them on this important step towards improving nutrition education,” said Mario Batali. “The Food Bank's strong ties in the community will undoubtedly make huge strides for many deserving families in NYC and hopefully help lead the way for the entire nation.”

Lucy Cabrera, President and CEO of the Food Bank, said, “We are thrilled to partner with the Mario Batali Foundation on this important nutrition initiative. Thanks to the Foundation’s generous support, we will now be reaching even more families, in their own communities, providing them with lifelong skills to create and sustain a healthier future.”

The Food Bank’s integrated services — food distribution, income support and nutrition education — help New York City families keep healthful food on the table through the toughest times.

Josh Wessler is CookShop Classroom Associate at the Food Bank. For more information about Community CookShop or to get involved, email

Our Partner: Fish's Eddy

by Ashley Goforth

Throughout the year, the Food Bank For New York City partners with businesses and organizations to spread the word about ending hunger. And, when we recently partnered with Fishs Eddy for a new Food Bank–-inspired line of dishes, I was thrilled -- I am, unapologetically, a fan. I squeal with delight when a Fishs Eddy signature dish arrives at my table when dining at a restaurant because they are quirky, fun and scream “Play with your food.” How would people say when Fishs Eddy announced they wanted to create a line of dishware for the Food Bank and donate 5 percent of the proceeds from sales to support hunger relief? Yes please, I’ll take 5 of each!! (Why 5? Why not? $1 donated to the Food Bank equals 5 meals and that’s a good enough reason to buy more than one of anything.)

I discovered Fishs Eddy the day I learned to “walk” in NYC. I’m a transplant from the South, we don’t stride the way New Yorkers do, we meander. I did not first understand this NYC “walking” style. There’s a certain glide New Yorkers have -- where two steps can get you clear across a crowded subway platform. It screams “Hey! I’m walkin’ here!” If I was going to “make it” here, a friend enlightened, I needed to glide. I took my first steps with this new sense of purpose right into an NYC institution, Fishs Eddy. So much of their designs celebrate NYC life and the icons that remind us why this city is so amazing. The products are practical, yet elegant -- like New York City itself.

The line Fishs Eddy created to support the Food Bank’s efforts to fight hunger is a natural extension of their family of New York–-inspired designs. The new line features orange polka dot bowls, retro storage containers, a set of four sauce dishes and more.. That means for every bowl, t-shirt, magnet and coaster you purchase from the line, we will be able to provide services to the 1.3 million New Yorkers who rely on the Food Bank and our network.

We are giving our Twitter community a chance to win some of these new Fishs Eddy products through a series of drawings. Each day this week, we are posting a “daily tweet” and asking you to re-tweet our message.You will be automatically entered into a drawing to win a piece from the collection. We’ll be giving away a different prize each day. If you don’t follow us on Twitter- now’s a good time to start: @foodbank4nyc.

Somehow I think the food you eat from these bowls and the coffee you sip from the orange striped mug will taste a bit richer when you know that your purchase helped us do what we can to provide solutions on all fronts and end hunger in New York City. You can check out the line online or you can glide into their store at 889 Broadway to see the dishes for yourself.

Help Hungry New Yorkers by Pledging to Lose Pounds

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.

Target’s “Party for Good” Did a Lot of Good!

From top: One of two areas where attendees packed meals; volunteers in action (some attendees packed three to five boxes each!); one of many warehouse-themed decorations at the party.
by Brian Pham

On June 28, the Food Bank For New York City had the pleasure of participating in and benefiting from Target’s “Party for Good,” an exciting event that was held at an undeveloped warehouse on the East River. The party was in honor of the attendees, facilitators and supporters of the National Conference of Volunteering and Services, where leaders in the volunteering and service world met for three days to share best practices and participate in informative workshops.

Not only did Target throw a terrific party for the “volunteer coordinators of the world,” but they also included a HUGE volunteer activity that night! Partying and volunteering – is there any other better combination?

Party attendees packaged 150,000 meals that were distributed to children and families at  the Food Bank’s member soup kitchens and food pantries across the five boroughs. Who knew that a party could be so good while doing so much good?

Watch this video to see what the warehouse looked like before and after Target decorated it, along with some clips of the party in action.

Thank you to Target for hosting such a brilliant event, and to everyone who attended!

Toast & Jam: Not the Breakfast Food

From top: Dr. Lucy Cabrera presents Susan Ungaro,  President of the James Beard Foundation, with an award for their longtime support; Chef Seamus Mullen of Boqueria in action in the James Beard Foundation kitchen during the event.
by Davinia Buckley

Food Bank For New York City is incredibly fortunate to have so many wonderful and dedicated supporters. We thank all of our supporters for making a difference, and the continued success and growth of the Food Bank is a constant reminder of the impact of all of your efforts. Despite the economic strain that many are feeling, supporters like you continue to find ways to show their dedication to ending hunger in the five boroughs — whether through donations, volunteering or spreading the word, your support makes a real difference in the lives of New Yorkers in need.

One of our most noteworthy opportunities to recognize our donors’ immeasurable contributions is our annual Toast & Jam celebration. It provides a time to formally thank our Liberty Partners and longtime supporters. It was a beautiful evening, which featured the true charm of the James Beard House — the host for nine years running — as guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Seamus Mullen of Boqueria (another supporter that is always available to lend a hand).

Of course, a Food Bank event would not be complete without some splashes of orange. The signature color was incorporated through orange ribbons worn by supporters who have been giving to the Food Bank for more than 20 years. Their longtime commitment to fighting hunger is truly commendable and is crucial to the Food Bank’s ability to provide food assistance to the five boroughs.

At the evening’s close, Dr. Lucy Cabrera took a moment to thank all of the attendees for their commitment to the Food Bank. Furthermore, for the first time in the history of Toast & Jam, Dr. Cabrera presented an award to the James Beard Foundation, who has also been a longtime partner in the fight against hunger. At the conclusion of the presentation, everyone joined in a toast to the continued success of the Food Bank and the kindness of its donors. I would also like to give a special thanks to our sponsors who helped make it possible: FedEx, Stella Artois, illycaffè, Acqua Panna/San Pellegrino and Southern Wines and Spirits.

And last, but definitely not least, a toast to all of you!

A Fishing Story from the Bronx

by David Grossnickle

 photo courtesy of the New Fulton Fish Market

The New Fulton Fish Market Cooperative houses 37 seafood wholesale businesses at its site at the Hunt’s Point Terminal Market in the Bronx. The largest wholesale seafood market in the country, worldwide the New Fulton Fish Market is second only to the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, Japan. And many of their seafood wholesalers are regular food donors to the Food Bank.

Walking through the market can be described only as an amazing tour of seafood from the eastern seaboard, and the world. There are common varieties such as herring, flounder and striped bass that are plentiful. But less-known varieties such as Spanish mackerel, sturgeon and cuttlefish are also in regular supply.

The health benefits of eating fresh seafood are well documented. Fresh seafood is nutrient-rich and provides a high-quality source of protein in the diet. Since fish is naturally low in fat but rich in omega-3 fatty acids or heart healthy fats, the American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of seafood per week. All of the seafood wholesalers at the New Fulton Fish Market, especially Blue Ribbon Fish Company, Carl’s Seafood, GC Dino’s Seafood, Fair Fish Company and Joe Monani Fish Company help the Food Bank distribute their donations directly to members of our food assistance network — helping to ensure that New Yorkers in need are able to enjoy both the taste and health benefits of fresh seafood.

Next time you eat seafood, remember the market and all that they do to help hungry New Yorkers — because, with millions of pounds of fresh seafood moving through the market every day, there is a very good chance the seafood you‘re eating came from the New Fulton Fish Market. Thank you to the wholesalers and the New Fulton Fish Market for providing a wonderful source of seafood to our network!

West Side Campaign Against Hunger

By Ruthie Askenazi

Ruthie Askenazi at the WSCAH Food PantryAs a senior at the Jewish Theological Seminary, I have been interning at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger - a Food Bank network member for more than 20 years - since September through our Fellowship in Jewish Social Entrepreneurship. I would like to share with you a little bit about my experience at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH) as guest blogger this week!

WSCAH is a supermarket-style, client-choice food pantry that offers food and social services to those in need. Each WSCAH customer can receive a pantry bag once a month, at which time they select needed items for three days of meals for their households. Since the start of the recession, the number of households depending on WSCAH is up 30 percent. In 2009 we provided food for 790,767 meals to 87,863 people.

At WSCAH, we believe that customers should be empowered to find solutions. Our social service counselors help people find jobs, register for food stamps, get health insurance, solve credit problems and find solutions to many other challenges.

WSCAH is also invested in teaching clients to be their own advocates.  Several weeks ago, WSCAH received from the Food Bank For New York City a stack of stamped postcards addressed to legislators asking them to fight funding cuts to emergency food programs. As part of my internship, I had the job of working with customers to collect signatures. In some cases I translated the postcard to Spanish to allow Hispanic clients to read what it said and decide if they wanted to provide a signature. Without any trouble, and with enthusiasm from almost everybody I spoke to, I easily gained enough signatures to send 150 postcards to legislators from WSCAH clients. We are thankful to the Food Bank for providing us with the postcards and giving us the opportunity to engage our clients in the advocacy work on their behalf.

Learn more about what we do by checking out our website: reading our blog: or joining our fan page on facebook!

Leaving on an Orange Note

By Kate Hindin

I can’t think of a better way to end my time at the Food Bank For New York City – I will be moving back to California at the beginning of February – than with the success of our NYC Goes Orange campaign. Turning New York Orange is no easy feat, and over the past year and a half I have been able to help light the city Orange twice – raising more than six million meals for New Yorkers in need!

The success of this annual food, fund and awareness raising campaign rests entirely on the enthusiasm of New Yorkers – young and old, from Staten Island to the Bronx – who come together with their families, friends and businesses to help our hungry neighbors. A campaign that began as a single week now lasts the entire holiday season and incorporates more than 300 partner organizations. This campaign would not have been possible without the generous support from our sponsors: Barclays, FedEx, Deutsche Bank, Bloomberg, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Vanguard Direct, Disney, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, and Goldman Sachs. The campaign is also made possible by the dozens of fundraising events that took place across the city– from Z100’s Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden to the delicious “Go Orange” cupcakes and cookies at Bay Ridge’s Ivy Bakery – along with the more than 300 virtual and traditional food drives, which alone raised over 250,000 meals for hungry New Yorkers!

I would like to personally thank everyone who participated in the campaign and helped make it our most successful to date! Whether you partnered with the Food Bank, volunteered at an event, donated or helped spread the word – you helped make a real difference for New Yorkers in need.

Though I may no longer have the opportunity to light New York City orange, my time here has been transformed by the color – and I will never forget the experiences and opportunities I have had at the Food Bank!

Listening to Our Network

By Phillip Cooke

Working on the Adopt a Food Program initiative, a partnership between the Food Bank For New York City and NYC Service, I have had significant contact with many of the food assistance programs in our citywide network. This is a diverse group of people serving a wide variety of needs, but I have noticed one constant: in the difficult economic times we are currently going through, food programs are struggling with a rising demand for their services.

Food pantries and soup kitchens are seeing an influx of working poor: people who work part-time, full-time and often multiple jobs, but still need a little extra help to feed themselves and their families. At the same time, available funding is decreasing as individual and institutional funders are coping with diminishing resources — leading many food programs to cut back on services.

This all might sound rather alarming, but there is hope. In a time of great need, volunteers have the opportunity to make a truly lasting impact. Working with many of these programs, I have seen firsthand how volunteers are providing organizations with the support they need not only to maintain, but to improve services. Volunteers also bring skills and ideas from their own life, such as grantwriting or marketing, that can contribute a fresh perspective to their adopted food program, enhancing collaboration and innovation.

In the past, I have seen so much accomplished by people working only for the knowledge that they are contributing to something much bigger than themselves. I love the enthusiasm and dedication volunteers bring to their work. So far I have seen that passion in the many groups and individuals involved with Adopt a Food Program, and I am excited to see the results of their hard work.

To adopt a food program in New York, please click here.

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