B of Service Day Feeds Body & Soul

“What’s your favorite sweet potato recipe?”

It’s a question that was asked often during my afternoon on June 21st. A few weeks ago, I happily found myself among 40 individuals from New York City area B Corporation companies, and members of the BLab staff who joined together to take part in the B of Service Day. I was representing my Kansas-based company, Hilary’s Eat Well, and with a passion to promote nourishing foods, I was thrilled to repack sweet potatoes for food rescue.

The New York City Harvest has been rescuing food for New York’s hungry for over 30 years now, devotedly helping to feed the 1.4 million food insecure members of the community. In the United States, an estimated 40% of all food is wasted, and it is the mission of City Harvest to fight hunger by collecting the foods that would have been considered waste, and organizing ways to deliver them to those who would benefit the most. The nearly 2,000 food donors range from city grocers, caterers, local farms, restaurants, and hotels- all whom make conscious decisions to reroute their food to avoid increasing the statistics of food waste.

Minute after minute, I shared conversations around large cardboard boxes with my gracious and inspiring peers. I have always loved spending time at BCorp events like this. In a world where profit is a top priority, it’s wonderful to work with my fellow B Corp companies, for whom making time to give is part of “business as usual,” as we focus on not merely profit, but on people and the planet as well.

As we sorted sweet potatoes, a common discussion theme became how we might eat them. Through the background Madonna music, the humming of the large industrial fans and the constant cheerful chatter, I kept hearing the numerous recipe and meal suggestions: wedges, soups, dips, and fries.

This one vegetable offered so many possibilities. In a city where 42% of households are considered food insecure, each bag of sweet potatoes offered a direct source of security. An area farm made the efforts to donate this produce. We were there, sorting and packing 19,000 pounds into individual bags. There would be numbers of City Harvest employees to orchestrate the destination and deliveries of our bags of sweet potatoes. There would be drivers to pick up, load and deliver the thousands of pounds. There would be community volunteers at mobile markets and food pantries across all five boroughs of NYC.

And then, finally, there would be a moment when a member of the community would receive a bag of our lovingly packed sweet potatoes. Taking that bag, along with other nutrient dense food donations, they might journey back to their kitchen feeling empowered. They now have a chance, to create a meal that fuels and nourishes. And, where the ingredients may before have gone to waste, they now have the unexpected pleasure of asking themselves, “What’s my favorite sweet potato recipe?”

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