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How Specialty-Food Producers Are Working to Fight Hunger

By / Jul 7, 2014 Volunteers assist with gathering leftover food from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. (via City Harvest's Facebook page)

With a large-scale post-event donation to food banks across New York City and the launch of a new foundation, the Specialty Food Association is using its members’ upscale feasts to help feed those who struggle to make ends meet.

The upscale leftovers found a good home.

As the Summer Fancy Food Show closed its doors in New York City last week, the association that put on the three-day event gave around 90,000 pounds of leftover foie gras, gourmet cheeses, prosciutto, and chocolate to food pantries and community programs throughout the city.

We normally don’t deliver $30-a-pound cheese or pate.

It was no small task, and it required hundreds of volunteers, but the Specialty Food Association (SFA) had some help from City Harvest, an antihunger nonprofit in the city that works with the association to donate leftover tradeshow food every year. The volunteers scoured booths of the 2,700-plus exhibitors at the expo, filling up six tractor-trailers with gourmet goods.

The upscale edibles are quite an upgrade for food pantry clients, who often struggle to afford even the most basic of meals, according to Matthew Reich, vice president of food sourcing at City Harvest.

“For the people we serve in New York City every day, when they don’t have enough to eat, we normally deliver potatoes, cabbage, onions, apples—a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables; we normally don’t deliver $30-a-pound cheese or pate,” Reich told the Associated Press. “So this is a treat for all.”

Making a Difference

For SFA, the annual tradeshow donation is just a starting point for its hunger-fighting efforts.

Last month the association announced the launch of a new foundation focused on hunger relief. The Specialty Food Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, will work with antihunger organizations to boost food-recovery efforts.

The association also plans to offer 10 grants to qualifying organizations and is accepting letters of inquiry from grant seekers starting this month. (The initial grants, to be awarded in December, will be funded by a gift from SFA.) The new foundation will host its first event, Embrace Hunger Relief Day, on October 10 to draw more attention to the issue.

“As part of its ‘Citizens of the World’ initiative, the Specialty Food Association wants to give back in ways that make a difference,” SFA President Ann Daw said in a news release. “Our association’s core purpose is to serve our members, but as a community that produces and sells food, we are also keenly aware that we can help impact these two vital areas.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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