Local Groups Prep For Feeding The Hudson Valley

Oct 4, 2016

A number of community organizations in the Hudson Valley are banding together to raise awareness about food waste. They’ve been prepping for a first-time event Saturday at Walkway Over the Hudson called Feeding the Hudson Valley.

The idea, says Rich Schiafo, is to feed hungry people, not landfills.

“We’re not preparing a meal made from food waste. We want to be clear that it’s food that would otherwise have gone to waste,” Schiafo says. “And with the amount of food that we grow here in the Hudson Valley and across the nation, no one should go to bed hungry.”

Schiafo is deputy executive director of the Hudson Valley Regional Council, which is working with organizations such as Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and Dutchess Outreach for the Feeding the Hudson Valley event. And there has been prep work galore, including gleaning at four local farms that yielded more than 1,000 pounds of produce. There will be food prep/chopping parties Wednesday and Thursday evenings with a Make the Meal party Friday night. The grand finale is the free meal event Saturday on the Poughkeepsie side of Walkway Over the Hudson.

“We plan to make 1,000 meals — 500 that’ll be served on the Walkway and 500 that will be donated to local charities in the Poughkeepsie area,” Schiafo says.

And here are the meal’s ingredients.

“We have gleaned a lot of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, corn, kale, collards, so it’ll be some combination. We’ve rescued actually some, a fair of amount of salad greens which have just come in this week so we’ll be having some type of like a ratatouille or stew made with those vegetables plus a salad, plus we’ve rescued a fair amount of bread,” says Schiafo. “There’s always an overabundance of bread in the marketplace, actually more than food pantries can usually use.”

Plus, he says, there will be a meat option thanks to donations from Hunters for the Hungry.

“All this food would have otherwise either been plowed under, composted, or gone to waste and it’s perfectly good and edible food that can feed a lot of people,” Schiafo says.

Sarah Salem is development manager with Dutchess Outreach. She says food waste and food insecurity exist side by side.

“I really do hope that people will walk away, or walk off the Walkway and think to themselves, ‘Wow, what can we do? How can we help? How can we make a difference? What’s going wrong?’” Salem says.

Salem shares a local statistic.

“There are 30,000 individuals in Dutchess County that are considered to be food insecure, and that’s around 10.4 percent of the population in Dutchess County,” Salem says.

Plus, she says.

“So a lot of people don’t realize that it goes outside of the cities like Kingston or Newburgh or Poughkeepsie,” says Salem. “It exists in Wappingers Falls. It exists in Fishkill. It exists in Pleasant Valley. It exists down in Beacon.”

Though several community organizations in the Hudson Valley are doing their part, Salem and Schiafo hope other solutions emerge from Feeding the Hudson Valley. Schiafo would like to see food rescue benefit farmers.

“So there are some business models that are popping up that hopefully can benefit the farmer as well, that they grow this food, they put the resources into growing this food and some way…   Right now, they’re basically allowing gleaners to come on and rescue it or they’re donating it,” Schiafo says. “And there is a federal tax write-off. There needs to be a state one as well.”

And he mentions the opening of the UK’s first so-called food waste supermarket, news of which hit the media less than two weeks ago. As for here in the U.S., the “Feeding the Hudson Valley” event is from 11-3 Saturday on Walkway Over the Hudson.