Pictured (L-R): Chef JJ Johnson, Matt Joswiak, Margarette Purvis, Tom Davis, Tanya Fields
On Thursday, September 7th, Food Bank hosted this month’s first Go Orange to End Hunger event, Feeding Innovation: What’s Next in the Fight Against Hunger—a panel conversation and networking reception inspired New Yorkers! Hosted by Forbes Media and NationSwell, the discussion featured anti-hunger game changers who are fighting in innovative ways, including Margarette Purvis, President & CEO of Food Bank For New York City; Tanya Fields, President, The BLK Projek; Chef JJ Johnson, Co-founder, Ingrained Hospitality Concepts and Food Bank Junior Board Member; and Matt Jozwiak, Founder, Something For Nothing LLC. The panel was moderated by Tom Davis, Chief Marketing Officer, Forbes Media.
New York City needs innovative ways to fight hunger. With 1.5 million New Yorkers who rely on the programs and services of Food Bank and its citywide network of local charities, the plight affecting the five boroughs is severe. Many of the people who visit soup kitchens and food pantries are working, but not earning enough for basic needs. Many low-income New Yorkers find themselves paying 60% or more of their earnings just to keep the roof over their heads – leaving them with little for food or other needs.
“You can’t run a food bank in New York City without adopting new approaches to tackle the multi-armed gorilla [hunger],” said Margarette Purvis.
The panel’s focus was on solutions, and each panelist explained how they use their own talents and experience to make a difference. Tanya has turned her passion for nutrition and sustainability into a community-based nonprofit, JJ leverages his passion for food and his network to bring other New Yorkers into the anti-hunger conversation, and Matt addresses an environmental concern by turning it into meals. Margarette commended each panelist for not allowing fear to stand in their way of making a difference – even the smallest contribution matters because it can have a “multiplying effect”.
All the panelists continue to fight because they are inspired by their own relationship with hunger. Tanya experiences hunger first hand, JJ witnesses the need for food daily, and Matt wants to turn 70 billion tons of food waste into meals. Food Bank uses innovation by focusing services on communities where people are suffering the most through partnerships with local charities. Margarette explained, this method is imperative because resources are going to Manhattan charities with the idea that they are going to other boroughs and this is not happening. Food Bank’s approach is organic and tackles the root of hunger by ensuring food and other resources—like fresh produce and SNAP assistance (formerly called food stamps)—are going where the need is greatest.
“It is important to look at your community and think about how you can make it better,” said Chef JJ. Tanya went on to encourage attendees that “if there isn’t a need in your local community, see if you can organize it in order to help another in need.” Capacity is a prime issue for a lot of local-based charities, especially in the hunger space. If your community is not in need, then try to participate in specific volunteer initiatives, advocate for resources, or simply raise funds.
The discussion concluded with Margarette urging attendees to identify what they can do to make a difference and to resist allowing the current climate to make us think that we can’t have an impact. “…be that loving person that your grandmother raised.”
Watch the discussion here: