Bank on It: A Food Bank Blog
Although this is only Daisy Carusillo’s second year implementing the Food Bank’s CookShop Classroom curriculum at PS 24 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, she handles the job like an old pro.
I recently had the pleasure of seeing Daisy in action as she instructed a roomful of new CookShop teachers at a training session one evening this fall. After a full day in their own classrooms, the teachers had arrived looking a little weary. But as Daisy led a mock Chef Lesson (a cooking activity in which students help prepare nutritious, kid-friendly recipes) it was clear that these lessons are her favorite part of the CookShop Classroom curriculum – and it was impossible for the tired teachers to resist Daisy’s infectious energy and humorous anecdotes. Plus, it didn’t hurt that the tangy batch of Peachy Orange Salsa they were preparing smelled so great.
“This is where nutrition education takes on a whole new life,” Daisy said. “The actual handling of the produce, the chopping, the dicing, mixing, the smells…does so much for the building of community.”
CookShop Chef Lessons give elementary-school children an opportunity to try healthy fruits and vegetables in a learning environment, Daisy said, while the Explorer and Discovery Lessons reinforce other academic areas such as reading, math and science skills.
“One of my favorite [Chef Lesson] memories is when a student was so proud of her dish – it looked so colorful, and it was so flavorful – she wanted to take some to the principal so she could taste it,” Daisy said.
But like all learning experiences, some can be a little jarring at first. When Daisy’s students were told carrots comprised the root of a plant, “they were so shocked, they weren’t sure if they wanted to continue eating [the Carrot Raisin Salad].”
Daisy said the students were more willing to taste the Three-Bean Salad and Apple Dipper recipes, but, she said, all CookShop lessons help serve a child’s personal development.
“Children who develop adequate cooking skills and nutritional knowledge are more likely to make healthier food choices later in life,” Daisy said.
And it’s that kind of insight – rather than the number of years’ experience -- that makes Daisy Carusillo an expert CookShop teacher.
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
Just before Thanksgiving, you heard from Cassandra Agredo, Director of Food Bank network member Xavier Mission, on Bank on It about the whirlwind of activity leading up to Thanksgiving day, when approximately New Yorkers would enjoy a Thanksgiving meal thanks to their efforts
Thanksgiving at Xavier Mission is my favorite time of the year. It’s when the best of humanity is revealed, when the boundaries that divide us seem to disappear for awhile.
What humbles me the most about the holiday is the gratitude I experience from so many people. It begins when our food pantry guests arrive to pick up their Thanksgiving food baskets. Many of them hug me, clasp my hands, and bless me and my family. Some are so overwhelmed by the food they are receiving and the ability to provide their families with a home-cooked holiday meal that they become tearful in their thanks.
One amazing moment happened when an elderly guest greeted one of my volunteers with effusions of gratitude and kept telling the volunteer how much she wished she could do something for him. All she had with her was a piece of gum and she pressed it into his hand, eager to show her thanks and return the kindness.
The gratitude continued to flow on Thanksgiving Day, when a gentleman joining us for Thanksgiving dinner at our community meal program slipped a napkin in my pocket. “Oh this rainbow coalition would fit into any exhibit of New York!” the napkin exclaimed. “Thanksgiving [at Xavier] was truly lovely and the greatest of performances!”
Gratitude emanated from our volunteers as well. One 78-year old woman had been signed up to receive a homebound meal. She called several days before the holiday to decline the delivery and requested instead that she be allowed to volunteer. She sat at the door and welcomed each guest into the hall with a smile, then thanked me over and over at the end of the day for allowing her to be a part of the festivities.
After being awash in the thanks and gratitude of so many this Thanksgiving, I find myself to be the most grateful of all. I’m grateful for the many blessings in my life, for the opportunity to work in a fulfilling job, and for the amazing people I meet every day—guests, volunteers, colleagues, advocates—who teach me so much about life, about justice and about love.
By Margarette Purvis
Last night I witnessed the close of my second full month as the Food Bank’s new CEO. I’ve learned many things that only a 60 day journey could teach and I plan to use them all. I learned that when my assistant asks me to repeat something with a lifted eyebrow she’s really saying, “I don’t think you should do that and I’m probably going to secretly change it for your own good.” In the midst of reorganizing programs and teams, I’ve learned that even when changing for the better, change is change and it just scares the socks off of most people…even the really talented and committed ones.
So, here I am dragging around my new found lessons and being told by staff that I have YET ANOTHER meeting to attend. For the record, I truly LOVE THIS JOB. I love the organization. I love our mission. Heck, I even love my eyebrow lifting assistant. However, the pace coupled with back to back meetings, interviews, and vision setting can often make a girl DREAM of a nap on the sofa. So the thought of yet another meeting requiring a trip on the subway was not EXACTLY how I saw myself spending a Wednesday night.
Nevertheless as a trooper, I gathered my things and applied a bit more lip gloss and went about my merry way. Was I dragging a bit behind my team? Maybe. I was tired and it was late and cold. When we entered the elevator our team’s fundraising guru suddenly started giving me some last minute stats on philanthropy. I gave her my raised eyebrow look that means, ‘I kinda want to kick you but since you’re doing your job…I get that that would be wrong.’ When the doors opened we left the elevator to walk to the apartment of the host of our meeting..and THERE IT WAS. Right outside the apartment door was a clothes rack and pile of shoes. My first thought: “Dear Lord, this is a no shoes zone.” I will admit that a mild panic shot through us all. For me, it’s been about 5 years since I’ve been a part of this particular NY phenomenon. Note to Non- NY’ers: No shoe zones are one measure used by NY’ers to keep a healthy home since NY is a heavy pedestrian city. However for another team member it was shocking for another reason: she had holes in her socks! Once we gathered ourselves from the exhausting laughter that this moment caused, I passed my socks to her and again, away we went.
Inside the apartment were new faces from varying careers and backgrounds all excited about our upcoming Gala. I will admit that while I expected YET ANOTHER meeting about a business event, I was pleasantly surprised to find something VERY DIFFERENT. Inside the apartment were varying types of New Yorkers discussing a shared passion for a single mission…all while wearing socks. So in less than 60 minutes, a retired banker, a voice over star, a talent agent, a tech guru, a past user of emergency services and a new mom provided my team and me with a little “end of the day jolt.” You see in the business of philanthropy, you work tirelessly at HOPING you’re making a connection to supporters. Last night, I was blessed by a clear message that said, ‘not only are people connecting to our mission…they SHARE IT and happily Join us in trying to meet it.’
So just like that…a long night turns into a great night and a long “to do” list transforms into a pretty exciting walk (in a really BIG) park. So thank you to last night’s hosts. We’re now considering ending all sayings about “rolling up our sleeves” in exchange for plans to TAKE OFF OUR SHOES! You’ve coined a new custom in our shared village and apparently, it works…REALLY WELL.
Margarette Purvis is the President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @FoodBank_Prez
By Lydia Smith
Food Bank For New York City had a number of exciting achievements in 2011. One of the biggest is that we are now able to procure food in bulk, before it is packaged into individual containers suitable for supermarket shelves, helping the Food Bank to significantly stretch our purchasing power.
Purchasing in bulk is now one of the major ways we are able to keep costs down on nutritious food. However, processing large food containers safely in our warehouse so they are ready for distribution was a big hurdle that took close to a year of planning to pass. The project that allowed us to process bulk containers was the construction of a new, state-of-the-art repack room in our Bronx warehouse, where teams of volunteers repackage food into container sizes suitable for delivery to soup kitchens and food pantries.
Like most major projects, no matter the field, this one began with an extensive round of research. The Food Bank first turned to Feeding America’s national network of food banks, traveling to food banks around the country to assess different approaches to dealing with the safety requirements for working with open (bulk) product. We then turned to a veteran in the industry, Bob Matlosz, former Greater Chicago Food Depository Operations Director, for further assistance and hired Rogers Marvel Architects, an architecture firm familiar with the food bank network, to design the space within our active, 90,000 square foot warehouse.
The piece of this project that I am most proud of is the fact that we kept our food distribution process safe and up-to-code throughout the entire construction process. We knew that, in order to best serve our network, we could not interrupt food deliveries to network in any way for any amount of time, even while working toward developments that would increase our supply of food.
Now that construction is complete, not only is our purchasing power greater – our volunteers also have a more rewarding experience. We couldn’t have done any of this without knowing our volunteers, who make up a key part of the distribution process, would be there to make this possible.
Thanks to this dream combination of passionate volunteers and facilities that meet the strictest of food safety codes, our network will be able to fill more shelves and plates for New Yorkers who struggle to afford food.
The Food Bank is already scheduling thousands of purchases that will require repacking before being distributed to our food assistance network. If you have a group of 10 to 30 people who are interested in volunteering at our new Repack Room, please fill out our online volunteer application today.
By Triada Stampas
Though it does not seem likely that the Congressional supercommittee in charge of reducing the national deficit by $1.2 trillion over ten years will be able to come together with a solution, they have not actually failed yet.
The supercommittee has until this Wednesday – the day before Thanksgiving – to produce a bill.
What are the stakes if the supercommittee is able to mend their differences? In their negotiations, all federal government programs will be fair game for cuts, restructuring or elimination. This would include the programs that are the foundations of our country’s hunger safety net – the food stamp program (SNAP), and the federal emergency food assistance program (TEFAP), which is the single largest source of emergency food in New York City and has comprised approximately half of the food distributed by the Food Bank For New York City in recent years.
So, then, what if the increasingly likely prospect that the supercommittee is unable to agree on a bill comes to pass? In that case, automatic across-the-board cuts of $1.2 trillion will take effect on January 1, 2013. Half of those cuts will be in non-defense programs, with certain exemptions (including programs such as TEFAP, SNAP and the Section 8 housing benefit). However, other essential programs that low-income Americans rely on including WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) and community development block grants would be included in the cuts.
Right now, the leadership of the Agricultural Committee has provided a proposal to the Supercommittee that would restrict the ability of states to coordinate LIHEAP, the home heating subsidy, with food stamps. This “Heat or Eat” program, allows the 14 states that currently implement it to adjust the formula used to calculate food stamp benefits in order to provide Americans who struggle to keep the heat on over the winter months with a greater food stamp benefit so that they do not have to chose between keeping the heat on an keeping food on the table.
This proposed restriction would result in $4.2 billion in cuts to food stamp benefits nationwide. It would primarily affect people in public housing, seniors and people with disabilities. It would affect approximately 90,000 households in NYC alone, each of which would lose on average more than $100 in monthly food stamp benefits.
Both options put low-income Americans in distinct danger at every step of the deficit reduction process. It is important that we tell our legislators now that they need to protect our most vulnerable neighbors during deficit reduction. Help the Food Bank remind those in Congress that cutting these programs and forcing low-income individuals to choose between food or heat in the winter months is not an option.
Triada Stampas works to inform government officials, policy makers and the general public about the needs of the city’s network of emergency food organizations and the more than 1.3 million people who rely on them; and to advance public policy that meets those needs.
By Leah Kohlenberg
Last week, the Food Bank kicked off the 18th year of our signature nutrition education program with a day-long conference, training teachers and educators to bring our CookShop program to students and parents in public schools throughout New York City.
A testament to the Food Bank’s continued commitment to nutrition education, CookShop will now be bringing the knowledge and tools to adopt a healthy diet on a limited budget to more than 135,000 low-income children, teens and adults through interactive workshops and peer-led social marketing.
This year, the Food Bank was proud to introduce important updates to CookShop. The CookShop Classroom for Elementary School curriculum, for example, now links nutrition education lessons directly to core subjects like math, language arts and science, and, importantly, to the school meals children have access to every day. CookShop for Families not only engages parents and guardians in workshops that complement the Classroom curriculum, it now also incorporates important skills like budgeting and meal planning.
This year’s keynote speakers – USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon and United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Mike Mulgrew – joined Food Bank President and CEO Margarette Purvis at the conference, showing their support and appreciation for the teachers, parent coordinators and school staff who make CookShop a reality.
“We live in challenging times, and teachers can play such a vital role, not only in ensuring that children won’t go hungry, but that they also eat healthy foods,” said Under Secretary Concannon.
Remembering the recipe prepared during his visit to a CookShop for Families workshop in the Bronx, Michael Mulgrew told us, “I don’t know what it’s called, but I still make it.” The UFT President further praised the hands-on CookShop curriculum for making learning accessible to all students, including those in special education.
Perhaps best of all, the conference gives us a great opportunity to hear from the CookShop teachers and educators directly about what they most value in the program.
”This is an excellent idea - to link [the lessons] to math, science and language arts,” said six-year CookShop veteran Millie Peguero, referring to recent updates to the curricula she will be implementing in her Manhattan kindergarten class. “We’ve already noticed that the apple lesson, for example, coincided with a science lesson on fruits of the season, so we use that as the science lesson that day.”
by Margarette Purvis
During my first week at the Food Bank I spent countless hours learning new faces and trying to match them with the names from the org chart. I met new and old donors, bonded with my new assistant and ran a gazillion reports to help me gauge my new home's temperature. When I wasn't performing those tasks I was working on VERY IMPORTANT responsibilities like finding my closest grocery store, best delivery spots and of course the closest dog park for my "who hid my back yard" pooch.
I've enjoyed an exciting week to say the least. Nevertheless, nothing in the midst of appointments, greeting new friends, connecting with old partners and relearning passwords prepared me for a visit to a local store for a "fruit run." As a lover of bananas and coffee, bananas and peanut butter and bananas with just about anything...I was NOT prepared for my new home's new price for an old favorite. You see, in Atlanta I was accustomed to buying a beautiful bunch of bananas for $.50/lb. In NYC the lovely check out girl reported that they were selling this same fruit for $.50/EACH. Since I'm now in a pretty public job I chose to not let my inside thoughts escape my mouth. So I quietly handed her enough money to purchase ONE.
On the walk back to my apartment clutching the most expensive banana I would ever consume in this lifetime....my mind wandered to families served by our soup kitchens and pantries who love bananas as much as I do. How in the world do they afford to have the entire family enjoy a fruit that's probably lying on the ground in tropical cities everywhere? How in the world has a banana become the Milano cookie for NYC youth? You see when I was a child there were 'kid treats' and 'adult treats'. Want a Chips Ahoy? Have at it...sometimes. But, reach for a Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie and you quickly heard how they were for "company." In our family all items marked "for company" meant that they were both expensive, adult and never intended for any kid sharing our DNA or living within a 50 mile radius.
So as I walked away gripping the TRULY golden banana, I couldn't help but think that SURELY fruit should be accessible to all. Isn't that why it's often referred to as dirt candy? I mean when families aren't allowed to CHOOSE fruit are they doomed to choose between health issues? I'll pass on the bananas and take heart disease. No apples for me but high blood pressure...maybe.
I posed this question to two program managers this week and both stated that more and more they're seeing children under the age of five years old tasting many fruit for the first time in an emergency pantry. Unfortunately, conversations with our member agencies prove again and again that bananas, like apples, peaches and grapes are simply not a part of many family's diets purely because of the COST. So yes, that means that the fruit that tempted the world's shared ancestors can't even be afforded by many of our nameless, faceless neighbors living in fruit-less homes everywhere.
I'm excited about my future at the Food Bank. There are so many exciting programs and opportunities to learn more about, expand upon and develop. However, right now...nothing makes me prouder than the fact that just last week we won Feeding America's Mighty Apple Award for being the largest distributor of FREE produce in the country. We are a FOOD BANK and that's what this work is about. We provide what the neediest New Yorkers and their communities DESERVE...making our SHARED Apple Mighty INDEED.
Margarette Purvis is the President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @FoodBank_Prez
|Margarette Purvis, President and CEO
This Monday, our new CEO, Margarette Purvis, began her tenure at the Food Bank For New York City. Watch the below video, taped at our 90,000 square-foot warehouse - and help us welcome Ms. Purvis by commenting to this post!
Read the Food Bank's press release to learn more about Margarette Purvis - and please welcome her with a comment!
Margarette Purvis is the President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @FoodBank_Prez