‘Tis the season for non-profit benefits, and on the heels of last week’s Taste of the Nation event, which brought dozens of the city’s most prolific chefs together to do work for No Kid Hungry, comes an event that will raise money for the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH; for which I sit on the board), an “umbrella group,” according to executive director Joel Berg, “and voice for the 1,100 food kitchens and soup pantries in New York City and 1.3 million people who rely on those agencies to feed their families” that also does a great deal of work to help people move beyond the soup kitchen.
At this party, which happens at Blue Water Grill (31 Union Square West, 212-675-9500) on May 6, you’ll have a chance to rub elbows with NYCCAH honorees Chelsea Clinton, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, and Dan Glickman, the former United States Secretary of Agriculture and Congressman, while you eat, drink, and support an ambitious cause.
Much of NYCCAH’s work revolves around ending hunger permanently in New York City and beyond. “We think more than a million of our neighbors shouldn’t have to depend on charities for adequate food,” says Berg. “We should have an adequate safety net in place to end hunger in New York City. This is the richest country in the world.”
To that end, the organization administers and educates communities about SNAP benefits (which help families purchase more food), offers a farm fresh CSA project that brings fresh seasonal produce to low-income neighborhoods, manages Americorps service volunteers to work to end hunger on the ground, and advocates on behalf of the community it serves to, as Berg puts it, “propose innovative and realistic solutions to the problem.”
In the past couple of years, that’s ranged from helping convince the governor to spend state money on picking up the slack from cuts to benefits that came from this year’s farm bill to working with the federal government to increase grants to groups that work with impoverished populations to increasing New Yorkers’ access to SNAP, so that low-income families, says Berg, “have significantly more food than they did a decade ago.”
In the future, says Berg, NYCCAH will “help the mayor implement a comprehensive plan to end hunger in New York City,” and it will expand its work on the national level to make an impact on hunger across the country. It’s for work like that that The Nation has called NYCCAH one of the most effective anti-hunger organizations in the country. “One of the reasons people like donating to us is that we’re getting to the root cause and have a long term-solution to end the problem,” says Berg. “You can donate food for decades and never end the problem.”
This benefit offers a chance to support the organization and help it run day-to-day. “This is our annual benefit, and it’s particularly critical,” says Berg. “Like many non-profits, many of our funds come from grants, which are very restrictive. They don’t help pay the light bill or rent, and other key parts of the effort we need the funding to support.”
Part of the evening will be spent honoring Clinton for her work with the Clinton Foundation, James for her efforts in installing free meals in NYC public schools, and Glickman for his long-time commitment to the anti-hunger cause. The rest of the night includes drinks and appetizers from Blue Water Grill plus a short program on NYCCAH’s work.