Food Bank Shortages In NYC

The New York Times is reporting barren food banks in NYC this Thanksgiving season, so if you were planning on donating some food to the hungry, now would be a good time to do it. Don’t live in NYC? There are hungry people everywhere.

The Times also profiled an interesting charity that rescues unused food from being discarded by restaurants and stores, even farms.

Until Jennifer McLean and two drivers from City Harvest showed up at Joe Sidoti’s farm last Friday, the radishes still growing in his field were goners.

The radishes would probably have been plowed under, and they certainly would not have wound up in salads in the South Bronx. But as soon as Ms. McLean saw them, big as apples and red as Christmas ornaments, she started working Mr. Sidoti over.

What would it take, she wanted to know, to get those radishes into City Harvest trucks and on their way to food pantries and soup kitchens in some of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods? She offered to provide transportation, she offered to round up volunteers to do the picking, and, most persuasively, she offered cash.

Off City Turf, Haggling for Food [NYT via Gothamist]
(Photo:Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times)

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  1. Colleen says:

    I work on a couple different farms in Santa Cruz, and the last bell pepper harvest was an eye opener for me. A lot of the grocery stores won’t buy bell peppers (and other produce for that matter) that doesn’t look “perfect” (as if vegetables are all supposed to look the same…) so they left a lot to rot in the ground, so I ended up with more bell pepper at home than I knew what to do with. Lots of produce goes unused… it’s a shame.

  2. mgyqmb says:

    It’s important to point out that this is not just happening in New York. Here in Missouri they had a lady from the Central MO Food Bank getting the word out that food supplies are very low this season, period.

  3. taney71 says:

    I wonder if focusing on the underlining problems of the homeless might not be a better and more useful use of our time and resources.

    It seems like people at this time of year always donate food; then feel good about themselves; and then forget about the homeless problem the rest of the year.

    A more permanent solution is to get these people jobs by training them or helping them find work. Only a very small portion of the homeless population can’t work. That is different from not wanting to work.

    I am prepared for the typical attacks of being some heartless person.

  4. jeanettefriedman says:

    If you are short of food, contact Rock and Wrap It Up. Check them out on Google, and they may be able to help you out in different areas.

  5. Islingtonian says:

    @taney71: i think you bring up some valid points. but, it can’t hurt to donate food to people who are hungry now while still working on long-term solutions. it’s not an either-or situation.

  6. fredmertz says:

    @taney71: Not heartless — jus poorly informed. Food banks are not homeless shelters or soup kitchens. They don’t cater exclusively to homeless people, and in fact, are generally used by working families that don’t make a living wage. These places feed children, who can then go to school without being hungry and have a chance to better themselves and their families.

  7. RandomHookup says:

    I have volunteered at the Greater Boston Food Bank for over 13 years and they mentioned today on the radio that they have a shortage as well. Time to clean out the pantry. The poor love canned bread and soy sauce.

  8. Elviswasntmyhero says:
  9. new and troubling questions says:

    @taney71: word!…Seriously, there are basic problems in infrastructure that basically guarantee there will always be some number of poor, underfed, hopeless people. Feeding them turkey and stuffing for a day is beyond not a solution.

    And plus, not to be a huge bitch, but: My next donation to the hungry will probably be to foreigners, not the American homeless. People here have it bad, yes, but the poorest, hungriest American is still often better off than a decent chunk of the rest of the world.

  10. radiofree says:

    @taney71: Yes, you’re right: get people training for jobs, which can lead to decent housing (somewhere, if not near where you work).

    An underlying bit to all of this is that one of the fastest growing segments of those who use food pantries are the working poor. Clearly, they just didn’t train hard enough.

  11. BigNutty says:

    RADIOFREE, or didn’t get the necessary training that our educational system sometimes neglects.

    They don’t even teach financial education in high school to help with credit, saving, investing, and other necessary tools needed to live a decent life.

    SUPERCHEAP, you would rather ignore a hungry child here in our country through no fault of their own? Yes, you can live off the waste in trash cans in this country but I would never give a penny to another country until this country solves it’s own problems. I know, this could be debated for a year.

    Help is needed everywhere. If everyone would help in their own area it would solve a lot of hunger problems.

  12. new and troubling questions says:

    @BigNutty: It’s true, things aren’t exactly ideal in the US…but at least we HAVE things like food pantrys, food stamps, and trash with actual food in it, whereas some other countries have governments that are decidedly unconcerned with their citizens’ poverty. But then again, where do you even start?

  13. TangDrinker says:

    I’m glad you posted this. I saw a story yesterday (maybe on CNN?) about how the pantries in Cincinnati and other cities are nearly empty right now. People with jobs and houses are trying to keep their houses – and run out of money for food. When the cold weather really hits later this winter and heating oil bills are 2 to 3 times more than what they were last year, you can bet more people will be visiting their local food bank. I think I’m going to give $$ donations this year to Second Harvest for xmas presents this year.

  14. startertan says:

    My gf and I donated $50 to the MD Food Bank yesterday. It’s not much but we do what we can. We’ll try to up it to $100 for the Xmas holiday.

  15. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @supercheap: I would rather give my money to an American in need than someone in another country. We help everyone else in the world then the Govt. forgets about helping our own people. A lot of the homeless are Vetrans who are suffering mental and physical disabilities. We should help them before any one outside our borders, they served the country and now they are getting the short end of the stick.

    Yeah it sucks for people in other countries that thier Govt. can’t or won’t help them but sending money and food without proper control and oversight just makes the problems worse.

  16. quail says:

    Pantries are low everywhere and the spots I saw last year running food drives aren’t this year. (My son’s school for one doesn’t have their food drop spot like they used to in years past.)

    And it is amazing the waste in the agricultural business. In CA and other areas there’s a group called Second Harvest who sends volunteers into the fields to pick the stuff that mechanization can’t get. (The bagged salad craze has brought some veggies into the home that would never get there. No one knows that the carrot slices are from a deformed tuber.)

  17. dirtleg says:

    It has been reported in our area that many of the folks showing up at local food banks lately are not only “trained” but are working. It is very tough for a family to maintain food on their table at minimum (or nearly so) wage. It is surprising how many working hungry are showing up, not only at food banks but at shelters also. And now with gas hitting record prices, it is getting harder to even make to work. Feed your car, or feed your family?
    I make it a point never to pass a Salvation Army kettle without dropping in a buck or two.