We’re in the thick of the holiday season and most people are in a tizzy about holiday shopping. Since it’s far better to give than to receive, this is the perfect time of year to offer your help to those less fortunate. Many of our favorite chefs are working with charities related to their passions for food and cooking. Here’s a rundown of how these charitable chefs are giving back to the communities that support them and how you can help:
City Harvest. Founded in 1982, City Harvest takes leftover food from some of New York’s finest restaurants and distributes it to the hungry. Not all the food comes from restaurants, but grocery stores, farms, manufacturers and corporate cafeterias as well, feeding more than 300,000 people a week. The organization also offers educational programs about nutrition and healthy eating. Many chefs have partnered with City Harvest to donate food daily, including Tastemaker Eric Ripert of Five-Star Le Bernardin.
How you can help: Volunteer or donate non-perishable food items.
Frontera Farmer Foundation. Founded by chef Rick Bayless and his wife Deann, along with staff from Bayless’ Chicago restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, this foundation supports small sustainable Midwestern farms. Using grant money, the foundation helps farms obtain fresh organic produce and keep their businesses running without the risk of fertilizers and pesticides ruining the farmland and the food.
How you can help: Read about the Midwestern family farms this foundation supports and donate online to keep them running.
Food Bank For New York City. Chef Mario Batali is on the board of directors and on the culinary council of this charity, along with a long list of other well-known chefs, including Anthony Bourdain, David Chang and Tom Colicchio. The food bank feeds the hungry in all five boroughs of the city and also provides educational programs about nutrition and health. Last year, it distributed more than 74 million pounds of food.
How you can help: Donate online; just $1 can provide 5 meals to those who are hungry. You can also donate food or volunteer to serve meals at the food pantries.
Common Threads. Chef Art Smith of Chicago’s Table Fifty-Two and Art and Soul in Washington, D.C., co-founded this non-profit organization to teach low-income children about nutrition through its cooking classes. The classes also teach kids about the “common threads” (family and food) that weave all people together despite their differences. Kids can take after-school classes in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C.
How you can help: Volunteer to assist chefs during the classes, help out on field trips or in other areas.
Emeril Lagasse Foundation. Chef Emeril Lagasse started his namesake foundation in 2002 to support non-profit organizations that help educate underprivileged children through cooking programs and training in communities where Lagasse has restaurants. He recently opened a Culinary Arts Studio at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, where high school students can attend a four-year culinary training program from some of the best chefs around.
How you can help: Make a donation online or attend a fundraising event, where you’ll enjoy music and food for a good cause.
Photo Courtesy of City Harvest