Page 23 - The Valley Table - November/December 2020
P. 23

                                 we could use restaura
 to feed people during t
been, it has really forced us all to face some very harsh realities. The idea that farming in America does not provide a living wage to people is absurd. It is an essential business. Most farmers in America have to have second jobs or third jobs to keep their farms going. That’s crazy. The American food system has relied on exploiting people and the question is: How do we fix that?
For our particular region, it’s a pretty rosy picture. The independent farmers I’ve been following, who were very nervous in the beginning, can’t get enough product. As people flee the cities and move to the Hudson Valley, independent farmers are banding together; they’re creating farm stores. There’s a whole new range of customers. I don’t think that reflects what’s happening in the rest of the country.
I will tell you that I’ve been writing about food for 50
years, and I really thought I knew a lot. But, I’ve learned so
much in the last few months it’s sort of stunning. I’ve always“On the Line | Dobbs Ferry
thought consumers could fix it, but I increasingly have
come to believe that government policy is the biggest driver March 16 everything shut down. Those first couple days, of our food system. We need anti-trust work. We need to nobody knew what was going to happen or how long we get back to a regional food system. In the State of New York, were going to be out. But we knew we needed revenue, there are something like 57,000 farmers and 137 of them and we knew we had product that was going to wind up
 are black. That also has to do with government policy, and we need to fix that. There’s so much that the government could do. It’s time we agree that the people who produce our food are essential workers and think about, from a policy standpoint, what that means.”
in the garbage. So, we closed down Saint George [Bistro in Hastings-on-Hudson], moved everybody over to Harper’s, and just started processing and donating food, figuring out what we could do to keep people employed.
We knew there were going to be restaurant industry people in need, so that was the first thing we put out there. If you need a meal, come get it. Simultaneously, we were reaching out within our community to say, ‘We think we could use restaurants to feed people during this.’
We set up a fundraising account and started reaching out to other restaurants to see if they would want to participate. It was very simple. How much money is coming in? How much can we allocate this week for meals? Who needs meals? We would present it to restaurants as this number of meals on this day, and here’s how much we can pay.
We found an organization to do hospital meals. They had an online system for people to start their own chapters of fundraising, so we merged our fundraising efforts. We think we raised close to $70,000.
In terms of impact, we definitely got a range of feedback. We had people eager and able to do hundreds of meals in a day, and we had people who [thought] the price point was too low. We were closed, but the busiest part of our summer was trying to get those meals out, trying to get people together to turn their stoves on.”

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