For 30 years, City Harvest has helped bring food to those in need. It is the world's first -- and New York City's only -- food rescue organization.
City Harvest collects excess food from restaurants, grocers, farms and other sources and then delivers food free of charge to hundreds of community organizations.
It's an incredible organization with a big heart that helps to feed more than a million New Yorkers, who might otherwise go hungry. City Harvest's do-good deeds are endless. It's attracted the attention of celebrities everywhere, from tennis superstar Rafael Nadal to celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson to singer Kelly Clarkson - they've helped fund-raise and done actual volunteering.
Healthy Hollywood can't say enough about City Harvest and all the positive actions it takes to curb New York City's hunger issues.
So, I was super excited when the City Harvest crew invited me to see their latest initiative firsthand. It's called Healthy Neighborhoods. City Harvest sets up mobile fruit and vegetable markets in impoverished areas in each of the five boroughs. They happen twice a month. "The mobile market was born out of the idea to get as much fresh produce into the neighborhoods. As we worked on the program and learned more, we realized people needed more than just free food," states Jennifer McLean, V.P. of Community Impact at City Harvest.
Jennifer and her team decided to not only offer fresh, free produce, but also teach folks how to make healthy meals. Getting nutritious food into the homes is one thing, but it's another to know simple recipes to make the dishes tasty for the whole family.
"We hope to achieve a long-term impact in the fight against hunger by teaching residents about healthy meal choices and enhancing the food landscape. For many people that City Harvest serves, healthy food is unavailable and unaffordable. With the price of food on the rise, many people turn to less expensive foods to feed themselves and their families which unfortunately can be unhealthy. In turn, diseases related to poor nutrition tend to be concentrated where demand for emergency food is greatest," adds Jennifer.
I visited City Harvest's Healthy Neighborhood market in Washington Heights. I arrived at 10 a.m. and there were hundreds of folks lined up waiting to get their free food in the 90-degree heat. Now, that's dedication!
I was told some of them began to line up before the crack of dawn. There were sacks of potatoes, corn on the cob, carrots, fruits and lots of greens being handed out. So, these folks are eager to learn about healthy foods and to feed their families better.
"Top Chef" and owner of NYC's Pig & Khao, Leah Cohen, was there making plates of her Grilled Beef Salad with Noodles. She also handed out recipe cards, so her dish could easily be re-created at home. "Cooking demonstrations are important because participants gain knowledge of ingredients in a healthy recipe, have the ability to taste how delicious healthy foods can be, and ultimately get the confidence to cook healthy foods at home. And, there is no financial risk - participants can taste the recipe first to know that it tastes good, and their kids can taste it so that parents will know if they like it," explains Jennifer to Healthy Hollywood.
To check out City Harvest and find out how you can help out, go to www.cityharvest.org.
-- Terri MacLeod
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- Food & Cooking