The War On Hunger

City Harvest helps to combat hunger issues

Chef and restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian serves as chairman.

It is a sad and unbelievable truth that in the year 2019, people around the world are still starving. Starving for food, starving for information and starving for help. That’s where City Harvest comes in.

City Harvest was founded in 1982 when a group of New Yorkers saw that NYC had an abundance of excess food even while a large number of its residents struggled to feed themselves and their families.

Fast forward to today, City Harvest is New York City’s largest food rescue organization, helping to feed more that 1.2 million people. They will rescue 61 million pounds of food this year and deliver it, free of charge, to hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens and other community partners.

This year’s gala, which takes place on April 30 at Cipriani, will honor Richard Gere and Chef Michael White. The event will be hosted by Chrissy Tiegen, Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski and Darren Criss will perform. The event committee includes celebrity chefs Geoffrey Zakarian, Anne Burrell, Neil Patrick Harris, Chrissy Tiegen, Ted Allen, Alex Guarnaschelli, Scott Conant, Danny Meyer, Eric Ripert, Marcus Samuelsson, Questlove, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and several others.

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian is heavily involved with City Harvest Food Council. As chairman of the Culinary Food Counsel, Zakarian is responsible for asking every chef to help in any possible way that they can.

“I do as much press as I can to spread the word about this terrific and important charity,” Zakarian said, noting that Chef Michael White and Richard Gere are being honored this year for their support. “It all started with Eric Ripert maybe 15 or more years ago. He has grown into a superlative leader for City Harvest and is one of the most remarkably generous and kind human beings I know. Richard Gere has also been there for us. He has been so generous with his time and lending support in a multitude of ways. Not to mention actually working the charity events as well as the auctions. He is a magnificent contributor who says yes every time he is asked to help out.”

Zakarian added that White is “a true talent and his work has helped City Harvest—it is wonderful that he is being honored.”

The City Harvest team currently has 22 trucks, 160 staff members, thousands of volunteers, and a food rescue facility. To date, the organization has rescued and delivered more than 600 million pounds of nutritious food for hungry New Yorkers. On the hunger epidemic in New York, statistics report that 40 percent of New York City households—more than 2.5 million men, women and children—lack the income needed to cover basic necessities like food, housing, transportation and childcare. When you think about that number, you realize that the number of New Yorkers who struggle to put food on the table is larger that the whole population of San Francisco.

When asked what people on a local level can do to help and lend their support, Zakarian said that growing the charity is key.

“We need to keep growing the charity as a brand so people actually adopt it from generation to generation and make it more effective,” he said. “You need to treat hunger as something that always was there and sadly, always will be there. Then the expectations of help and assumed responsibility will always be there as well. It’s a deep responsibility. Not just a charity.”

For more information about City Harvest and the gala, visit www.cityharvest.org.

Jennifer Fauci
Jennifer Fauci is the former managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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