Rockin’ and Wrappin’ II

This past Thursday and Friday, I witnessed stadium food donation in action. The non-profit group Rock and Wrap It Up! facilitated both events, a Mets game and a Bob Dylan concert. 

For the concert, Rock and Wrap It Up! honchos Syd and Diane Mandelbaum took me from a Long Island Rail Road stop to Jones Beach Theater, where the group has rescued food since 1991. The non-profit has agreements with some venues like Jones Beach, but the original model is having bands make food donation a part of their contracts.

At the show, I donned my new Rock and Wrap it Up! t-shirt and briefly manned the information booth that aids the group’s profile and coffers. After taking in some of the concert with other volunteers, we went backstage at 9:15 p.m. to collect the excess food. 

I wasn’t aware of just how many stage hands, crew and hangers on eat backstage–Syd estimated it was usually 300 to 400 people. Also, I didn’t know that the caterer serves three-to-four meals during the day, depending when the band arrives. Add that up and you’ll have a healthy amount of excess. We took what the caterers wrapped for us–trays of steak, chicken, cut fruit, lentil salad and a box of pastries that elicited an “ooh” from the volunteers. We left a bag of potato salad behind because the group doesn’t take mayonnaise items or fish, a result of not having a refrigerated truck.

“That’s a really great pickup,” a veteran volunteer noted, as I stared longingly at the tantalizing Rice Krispie treat donation. 

On the other hand, the concession stand donations were unusually light. There was only one tray of chicken breasts, hamburgers and hot dogs. Why so little food? Syd’s prediction proved correct: “It’s a stoned crowd, they’ll eat a lot when the munchies kick in.”

We loaded the haul, about 100 pounds of food in two, large plastic trunks, into the Mandelbaum’s Excursion and headed for the donation site–a group home for families with HIV. We brought the food into the non-descript brick bungalow with spoke with the home’s director, Darryl Smith. We stacked the food onto the kitchen counter as Smith told me most of the donations would go to a storage freezer and be used as needed.

On the train back to the city, I wondered to myself: Why don’t all concert venues donate their food? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

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  1. By Wasted Food » Blog Archive » Grim Reaping on August 28, 2007 at 11:55 am

    […] For those of you new to the site, I’ve been researching the food wasted in America’s food chain for more than two years. The work has its highs (food donation research at a Bob Dylan show) and lows (working in a supermarket produce section), but seldom gets boring. […]