food insecurity

100K Pounds of NYC Show's Gourmet Leftovers Rescued to Fight Food Insecurity

New York City's largest food rescue group, City Harvest, delivered thousands of specialty items to dozens of shelters citywide after the 2022 Summer Fancy Food Show

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New York City's largest food rescue organization gathered upwards of 100,000 pounds of specialty items from this year's Summer Fancy Food Show and delivered the goods to dozens of food pantries and soup kitchens across all five boroughs.

City Harvest joined forces with the not-for-profit Specialty Food Association, a trade association founded in 1952 that represents nearly 4,000 businesses. 

The Summer Fancy Food Show returned to New York City after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Showcasing specialty foods and beverages, the event ran for three days and ended on Tuesday.

"This is probably the most exciting recovery effort of the year for City Harvest, and it's because of the high-end products. Jams, jellies and pastries, so we have perishable and non-perishable goods. We want to get the perishable items out of the building within a certain timeframe," Bill Lynch, president of Specialty Food Association, told NBC New York.

Following the event, more than 200 City Harvest volunteers collected the leftover perishable and non-perishable items to be distributed free of charge.

An estimated 1 in 4 children in the city is experiencing food insecurity, without stable access to adequate, affordable and nutritious meals, according to Feeding America, which is an over 40% increase since the pandemic began.

A staggering 1.5 million New York residents, adults and children alike, do not know where or when the next meal will come from, based on the data.

Having been on the receiving end of the food donation line, Queensbridge, N.Y. native Ceil Witherspoon has been volunteering with City Harvest since 2014. Witherspoon works in the mobile markets in Queens and Astoria, as well as other shows similar to the Summer Fancy Food Show.

"For me, I worry about mostly the people with kids. That's my big worry. Adults, I don't worry about it. Even though, when doing a mobile market, they [City Harvest] tell us the volunteers to get tour food first, I usually don't get anything, but I see a lot of kids -- I give them extra food because it's a child," Witherspoon told News 4.

Since March 2020, City Harvest had transported over 270 million pounds of food. During the pandemic, the organization launched a map where New Yorkers can easily find free food at distribution sites.

On Wednesday, City Harvest is hosting its annual summer tasting fundraiser, Summer in the City, with bites and drinks from over 30 notable city restaurants.

"Summer in the City is an incredible waterfront tasting event featuring nearly 30 of the city's hottest restaurants and mixologists," said Kathy Holding, City Harvest's director of special events. "Attendees not only will get to enjoy summer camp-themed food and fun, but also raise vital funds to help feed tens of thousands of New Yorkers in need."

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