David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary

12 May 2010

On Your Plate

May 12, 2010. A sometimes sunny yesterday in New York, and sometimes not.

I went down to the Metropolitan Club where City Harvest was holding its annual On Your Plate fundraising lunch. They were honoring Silda Wall Spitzer, Founding Chair of Children for Children (you first read about it here, NYSD 4.17.11).

As last year’s honoree, I was selected to introduce Silda after which she spoke and then gathered a panel of school kids from New York City who have been involved with City Harvest, to talk about it.

If there is such a thing as a favorite charity, or rather, a charity that resonates, City Harvest does it for me. If you didn’t know, quickly: They collect more than 26 million pounds of excess food from all segments of the food industry and deliver it free of charge to almost 600 community food programs. Using a fleet of trucks and bikes and volunteers on foot. Each week they help over 260,000 hungry New Yorkers find their next meal.

We’re none of us all that far from the possibility of going hungry – which is not the same as “being” hungry – which is the state most of us live in. Going hungry is an assault on the body and a blow to our inner strength. Once going hungry, he or she is on dangerous path and knows it. Keeping us fed and nourished is an embrace and nurtures and provides the strength to hope, and protect us. City Harvest does all this.

Silda Spitzer has a full time job as the Managing Director of business development and strategic positioning at Metropolitan Capital Advisors. She is also involved with Children for Children, which is now part of Points of Light Institute/Hands On Network, engaging youth from all backgrounds in service and service learning.

As the wife of former Governor Elliot Spitzer she is a familiar figure to many New Yorkers. But few have had the opportunity to see her speak and share her interests. She’s disarming on first meeting because she is a lovely young woman with an interesting combination of a gentle demeanor and certainty of purpose.

Yesterday’s panel of school kids (8th and 9th grade, I think), were asked by Silda as moderator, about their involvement with gathering food for City Harvest and how they felt about service to their community. Their responses were impressive and an eye-opener to the audience of hundreds of men and women.

The panel discussion was Silda’s way of demonstrating the value of her organization’s objective – which is to give young people the opportunity to help others and automatically empower them, and automatically develop a strong sense of responsibility. Plus, we learned on yesterday’s panel, that these kids were doing many other things – like tutoring younger students – as well as mentoring and engaging others in the service work.

The On Your Plate Luncheon is always good. Dr. Mehmet Oz spoke the year before last (NYSD 5.19.08), and now of course he’s become a media medic. This year we had a glimpse of a potentially better future for all of us, or the possibility of one. The guests left the luncheon enlightened.

What personally concerns me with the present state of things in the economy is that more and more people will be in need. This has already happened to all the food pantries and suppliers, as well as City Harvest. Hunger is the danger zone for all of us under stressful circumstances. Now is the time to give, to volunteer, to help. This is a way for us to help ourselves.

Rochelle Hirsch, Michel Witmer, and Alison Minton.