City Harvest, who deliver food to roughly 1/3 of New York City's 1.6 million hungry, collected about 100,000 pounds of food at the closing of the Javits Center's Fancy Food Show today. Exhibitors were breaking down when the lot of us hit the floor at 4; by 6 the work was pretty much done. We had to work fast: perishables can only remain two hours unrefridgerated before they're in City Harvest trucks. Many hungry have compromised immune systems so you have to treat their food with extra care.
First we filled huge bins with perishables - everything from spanking fresh tristar strawberries, raspberries and currants to pounds of truffle butter; preserved artichokes & fresh and smoked mozzerella and a thousand other fancy Italian and French cheeses; dals and chicken korma in bags; smoked salmon and trout; ramps, wild arugula, pink and white striped chick peas, a lot of stuff I'd never seen before. Then in a second round we hit the non-perishables: rainbow-striped, black and white dried pastas; all manner of chocolate, oil, spice. NYC's hungry families will be eating well indeed for a couple days.
To volunteer takes a brief initiation as City Harvest has many a way to put spare time to good use. At CH's Mobile Markets you go to projects in the Bronx and Staten Island and give away as much fresh food as families can carry. At one last May Eric Ripert did a demo stir fry with winter vegetables. CH volunteers also hop on trucks to pick up from restaurants the food they bring to a central processing,
re-organize and send the trucks back out to shelters. 500 shelters a week.