As Easter falls upon us this weekend, many people will gather together with their families to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. Most of these familial celebrations include some type of meal and perhaps even an Easter egg hunt for the little ones, filled with candy, little knick-knacks, and, if the kids are really lucky, money. Most likely, that meal will include some form of ham. But have you ever wondered why?
Back in the days when people relied on animals for food, they usually had one cow, which they relied on for milk, not meat. Spring was the season in which baby animals were born, so although there may have been new baby chicks and piglets, they weren’t an option for an Easter meal. Nor was spring the time to hunt, because the animals weren’t fat enough to deliver enough meat. If the owners were sheep herders, they may have been lucky enough to have a piece of lamb to eat for Easter, but not many Americans were sheep herders. The only remaining piece of meat to eat was the big preserved ham that was held back from butchering in the fall specifically for Easter.
Prices Spikes Might Change Many Minds This Year When Deciding On Buying Hams
Although ham is the most popular dish of choice for Easter brunch, many might be changing their minds this year, as ham prices have spiked due to the increase in pig feed over the past two years. According to the BostonHerald.com, Ham has been selling wholesale for 75 to 80 cents per pound this spring, which is in line with last year’s prices but well above the 55 cents per pound average for the previous five years.
Some people went as far as buying their ham over the Christmas holiday when sales were going on, in order to be able to afford feeding their families the “wanted” meat on Easter. But places like food pantries that aim to feed hundreds, if not thousands, on Easter Sunday, may not be so lucky. As prices have been increasing, it seems the only way that food pantries and kitchens can afford to serve hundreds of hams is through the giving of generous donors. Unfortunately, donations have been down in the past couple of years, according to the BostonHerald.com, and, most of the donations given to food pantries seem to be food staples, such as pasta, soup, and bread. So, if you’re celebrating with your family this year with a glazed ham, think of those in need that are missing out. Then contact your local food bank or food rescue—such as Second Helpings, located in Indianapolis, IN—and donate a small (or large!) monetary gift or ham to them. There will be many mouths that will thank you.
With obesity rates as high as they are, it makes it easy to forget the millions of Americans, both adults and children, who struggle with hunger on a daily basis. There are my ways to help combat hunger and as we learned in our Tuesday blog, food rescue organizations are one way restaurants and foodservices can make a difference.
What Do Food Rescue Organizations Do?
In January, we spoke with Ben Shine, communications and development manager at Second Helpings of Indianapolis, to learn about food rescuing and their involvement with the Super Bowl.
“It’s anything overstocked, over prepared or unused,” Shine said. “Anything that hasn’t been served to the public and handled by food safe handlers.”
Food rescuers get the unused food from a variety of sources such as restaurants, distributors and grocery stores.
Restaurants Getting Involved
According to a recent article from ABC 2 news in Chicago, recent statistics show 30 to 50 percent of the world’s food does not get eaten and ends up in landfills.
Restaurants and foodservices are some of many places where food is wasted, and by teaming up with a local food rescuing organization, that perfectly fine, unused food can be saved and served to someone who needs it.
Finding a food rescue in your area can be as simple as a quick Google search. There is also a section of the USDA’s website that provides information about some of the country’s largest food rescuing organizations, as well as the USDA Food Recovery Hotline: 1-800-GLEAN-IT.
A Look at a Food Rescuing Organization: Second Helpings of Indianapolis
Second Helpings is a non-profit food rescuing organization in Indianapolis. On Tuesday March 27, we (Content Coordinators Ashley Cobb and Tracey Rector) visited the facility for a tour and to learn more about what Second Helpings does.
The organization was started in 1998 by three Indianapolis chefs: Kristen Cordoza Kienker, Bob Koch and Jean Paison. Today, Second Helpings rescues over 1.7 million pounds of food each year and delivers around 3,000 meals to over 60 social service agencies. This saves those agencies approximately $2 million each year.
“We don’t go search for hungry people to feed, or open up to let them come eat. You see, these agencies already know where to find them and what their needs are,” Shine explained. “Plus, the food we provide these organizations saves them tens of thousands of dollars a year in providing full food service to their clients.”
Second Helpings has over 600 volunteers, 30 of which work in their facility each day.
But they don’t only rescue food; Second Helpings also has a free culinary job training program for the unemployed or underemployed and places 85 percent of graduates in local foodservice positions.
“We have our culinary training class led by Chef Sam Brown,” said Second Helpings Communications and Development Coordinator, Emily Cutka.
Chef Brown is a graduate of class No. 6, and Second Helpings recently held their 66th graduation. This last class had 12 graduates and Cutka said there have been 483 graduates so far.
“Half the day is spent in the classroom and the other half is spent in the kitchen,” she said. “Guest chefs from well-known restaurant around Indy come in sometimes as well.”
For Second Helpings, It’s More than Just Rescuing Food
Each volunteer from Second Helpings is trained on what food can be brought back and understand what is safe to eat.
They also recycle and compost. A company comes in to pick up the recycling and compost and Cutka mentioned some of the remaining compost is used for their herb garden in their backyard.
Also, each volunteer cooking the food is very aware of where the food will be delivered that day and adjusts how it’s cooked accordingly.
“For example, if it’s going to places where children are the main demographic, the volunteers will be sure to cut up the food into smaller pieces,” Cutka said. “Or if the food is going to Wheeler Mission, where adult men are the base demographic, they will be more likely to prepare something more hearty.”
And thanks to some private donations, Second Helpings has recently doubled their capacity and now have a more streamlined process for their day-to-day tasks.
The visit to Second Helpings was incredible. It’s amazing to see so much food that would normally go to waste be put to good use.
Second Helpings is just one of many food rescuing organizations in the country and is definitely a great way for restaurants and foodservices to help combat hunger.
To get involved, search your area or visit the USDA website.
All photos taken during our visit to Second Helpings. View our Facebook page to view all photos during our visit.
While many of us come home after work, plop down on our leather couches and turn on our 72-inch flat-screen TVs, there are thousands of Americans sitting on concrete sidewalks, shivering as they nuzzle their chins further into their old, dirty jackets. While we laugh along to the laugh track on 2 and a Half Men, their eyes tear as the wind blows sharply across their face and sends chills down their backs. And after we eat half of the large pizza and order of breadsticks we ordered from Domino’s Pizza, we shrug as we throw the rest in the trash can. “It’ll just get old,” we tell one another. “No one wants the leftovers.” Rarely do we think of the people on the other side of town in that moment, the people rummaging through the Italian restaurant’s dumpster. Looking for that night’s leftovers. Anything that will fill their bellies—a breadstick, a piece of pizza, anything.
A New Low
According to USAToday.com, a record number of 44 million people are enrolled in the governments’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Many Americans recognize the program as our country’s food stamp program, which is federally funded, but administered by the states.
Stepping in and assisting are food banks, soup kitchens, and food rescue organizations. According to Wikipedia, a food rescue is “…the practice of safely retrieving edible food that would otherwise go to waste, and distributing it to those in need.” Often, food at farms, restaurants, farmers markets, or grocery stores is edible but not saleable, (perhaps it’s past its “sell by” date, for example); other times, the food is perfect to eat, but the restaurant bought too much of it, or has scraps of meat or fish from a byproduct of a dish made. This is when a food rescue comes into the equation, saving it from a dumpster (when it comes from a restaurant), or saving it from being plowed under (when coming from a farm). When food is saved from a farm, it is called “gleaning”, which essentially means gathering crops that would traditionally rot or be plowed under after harvest.The Society of St. Andrew, (or SoSA) which began in 1979, is the largest gleaning network in the nation, averaging about 30,000 volunteers each year to contribute and glean over 18 million pounds of food. This food goes straight to those in need within 48 hours of picking, according to the Society of St. Andrews’ website. SoSA works with many different charities as well, such as Feeding America, and not only focuses on hunger in the United States, but across the world. The impact of this food rescue, started over thirty years ago, has been phenomenal.
How Hunger is Affected in Indianapolis
The impact of hunger in Indianapolis is astounding; while many think that this is a problem that only big cities have, such as New York City and Los Angeles, the economy has hit Indiana hard and its impact on its residents has affected many. Luckily, Indianapolis has two large food rescues that are doing a great job of recruiting volunteers to collect, package, and distribute the food to our city’s less fortunate. Food Rescue and Second Helpings are both Indianapolis-based food rescues, relying on volunteers each day to help pick up food from various locations around the city, help in the kitchen, and deliver to places around the city as well. At Second Helpings, they actually have a culinary class, where they train volunteers who are interested in learning how to cook and want to be more involved in volunteering. The class is free, so they also train some of those who are less fortunate, creating chefs out of those whose dreams may have been lost for a period of time. But with this chance, that dream may be back.
Join us next time on our blog, as we continue with our post on the benefits of teaming up with food rescue organizations…
Monument Circle/Indianapolis Super Bowl Press Center
Welcome to the second part of our Super Bowl foodservice series. If you missed the first part, click here to see how downtown restaurants have been impacted by the 10 day extravaganza that leads up to the Super Bowl.
Aside from restaurants, mobile food will play a very important role during this year’s Super Bowl events.
While there will be mobile food sites all over, the city has created a special opportunity just for food trucks and have set aside space just for them on downtown Indianapolis’ Monument Circle.
The trucks will be out from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday Jan. 27 through Sunday Jan. 29 and Thursday Feb. 2 through Sunday Feb. 5.
The space is available in two shifts, 11 trucks in the first shift, then 12 trucks in the second.
Duos Indy food truck is one of the trucks that will park on Monument Circle. Becky Hostetter, chef and a co-owner of Duos, said they are nervous and excited.
“For food trucks, we don’t really know how it will play out but we are planning on all goodness and light.”
Duos Indy/Duos Indy Facebook
One of the interesting aspects of their plans (as for many of the other food trucks and restaurants) has been the menu.
“We want to remain true to our brand and serve with speed, serve food that speaks to the guests and maintains integrity.”
The NY Slice is another truck to park on Monument Circle and said they have had to increase staff by 80 percent. They have also produced a second truck with two serving windows and two brick ovens inside.
With hundreds of thousands coming to Indianapolis, restaurants, hotels, etc., have worked extremely hard to make sure everyone that walks through their doors gets a meal. However, believe it or not, not all of the food is used.
That’s where local food rescue organizations like Second Helpings come in and rescue unused food and redistribute it to the hungry.
He mentioned Super Bowl host committees started working with food rescue organizations three years ago at the Miami Super Bowl and that year alone rescued about 90,000 pounds of food.
Shine described rescued food as anything overstocked, over prepared or unused that has not yet been served to the public. It also must have only been handled by safe food handlers.
He isn’t sure how much they will rescue, but knows they certainly will. And as they are located in downtown Indianapolis, they have already developed relationships with several restaurants, hotels, etc., which will make the food rescue process much easier.
“There is not as big of a learning curve,” he said, as compared to cities where food rescuing isn’t common. “Restaurants will know how to store and take care of the foods.”
Also, to kick off Second Helpings’ involvement with the Super Bowl, they have joined together with local artists and chefs for the event “Souper Bowls 2012,” which will be held on Saturday Jan. 28.
Souper Bowls/Second Helpings
Souper Bowls is a chance for the public to taste some of city’s best soups as well as meet with artists, chefs and members of the community to fight hunger in Central Indiana.
The events being held for the Super Bowl are endless–and extend far beyond Indianapolis’ downtown area near Lucas Oil Stadium where much of the action will take place.
OAKLEY’s Bistro is located on Indianapolis’ northwest side. Despite being 15 to 30 minutes from downtown (depending on how traffic behaves), they have had to make several adjustments to accommodate guests.
“We have a few larger parties coming in, companies that are entertaining, but for the most part we expect our business to come from hotels in our immediate area when people are deciding where to eat,” said Chris Hopkins, manager at OAKLEY’S.
Normally, OAKLEY’s is closed on Sundays and Mondays but will have special hours to be open on Sunday Jan. 29 and Monday Jan. 30. They will also be open on Super Bowl Sunday at 11 a.m. for a Champagne Brunch.
There are around 20 other areas and cities, some as far as 45 miles outside of Indianapolis, declared as Super Celebration Sites. Some sites are businesses while others are restaurants.
“Super Celebration sites are natural gathering places which provide opportunities for residents and visitors to get information about the many activities surrounding the Super Bowl,” their website said.
IN State Fair Host Committee Promotional Booth/Indianapolis Super Bowl Press Center
“The Super Celebration Site program is designed to connect Central Indiana regional communities hosting NFL fans and guests. Each site has housing for NFL guests and fans, a concentration of restaurants and other hospitality amenities and a collaborative group to plan and organize programming.”
Becoming a city set to host the Super Bowl is a great opportunity to showcase what a city has to offer. It’s a lot of work for all involved, but all the hard work pays off in both the short and long term.
Indianapolis sure has a lot to offer and it will be a great 10 days. We’ll be sure to follow up with the restaurants and food trucks mentioned, as well as Second Helpings to see how all events pan out.
If you have anything to share about your Super Bowl experience, whether it’s this year in Indianapolis or a previous year, let us know! We’d love to hear about it.