New York is food obsessed.
We enjoy more food-as-culture rituals, artisanal food-making swag, celebrity chefs and world-class restaurants than anywhere.
I was very fortunate to have made life-long friendships there.
Last year, I had a "duh" moment – realizing City Harvest was ideal for me.
And I’d seen their trucks at the Greenmarket where I shop most every day that it's open.
City Harvest doesn’t allow volunteers to work in the field without the orientation.
I pleaded/begged Kristen Kehoe, Manager, Volunteer Services & Community Affairs, adding “I am a very small person and wouldn’t take up much room.”
Kirsten got the giggles via email and was swayed.
Mary Ann is equally diminutive and so, just like that, we were in.
It’s a piercing tale…
The distinction is that City Harvest is not a soup kitchen or food pantry kind of operation where people come to eat.
Presently, they provide approximately 83,000 pounds of food per day, 50-60 million pounds per annum. Food that otherwise would be going in the hopper…
Overall, 20% of the population is struggling to feed themselves.
We were told that metric is the equivalent of filling Yankee Stadium.
And not meant to be weighted in the same sense, but rather to show how out of whack things are—a hot dog at that same Yankee stadium that would be filled with the city’s hungry, can cost just south of a walloping $10. And they sell a lot of hot dogs…
I didn’t have a travel partner on the way over from Manhattan but did on the return.
I served as judge for the greening contest held every year in the borough but because the vans took us to the judging locations, I hadn’t use public transport and didn’t know how to get there.
But a quick Hop Stop research directed me to the M – which travels up over the bridge after the Essex street stop, and like a good air traffic controller, City Harvest’s Pedro guided me to the location once I disembarked and got me to the unfamiliar spot in no time.
Then we waited for all the food to be brought into the market, aka a Bed-Stuy playground, visited by City Harvest bi-monthly.
we were instructed to set up the tables and were told to place two or three scales on each table.
Notice sheets were taped on the table in front of us, identifying how many pounds of the produce were to be given to the people, using an alphabetical categorization.
I was first in the line of distribution so I felt a bit like the greeter too, welcoming people and smiling a lot.
It seemed natural to pair up.
We thought we’d get ahead of the game, and started filling the plastic bags provided with potatoes. We ran out of those pretty darn fast but it was a good idea.
There were some rotten potatoes too – ones that had turned to mush, and we tossed them discretely as we were filling the people’s food bags.
And when some citizens who were picking up for neighbors or family members were receiving two B size bags – we’d say laughing, “Two B’s – To B or not to B, that is the question!”
We reassured her, filling some bags with the last of the food from the big open bags from the trucks -- so she actually made out better, getting more things.
I also met a swell group of corporate men -- professionals from a Garden State pharmaceutical company, Eisai.
This is the other side of the food coin. It is one we need to flip and look in the eye.