It’s been over two weeks since Hurricane Sandy made landfall, crippling coastal communities along the East Coast and the Caribbean in her wake. The powerful winds, rain and massive flooding left 149 people dead, thousands homeless and millions without electricity, heat or gas. Early estimates from analysts calculate the storm’s damage at $50 billion, and the slow recovery appears bleak as winter weather looms.
We’ve received numerous reports of the heartbreaking and heroic stories in the aftermath of Sandy, including from our fellow friends, farmers and small business owners in the food community. According to Heritage Radio Network, in the heavily damaged Brooklyn neighborhoods of Red Hook, Coney Island and Far Rockaway, grocery owners and restaurateurs are working to feed their communities amidst significant losses of inventory, equipment, and revenue. Staff members are without work indefinitely and some food businesses may not reopen. We’ve also learned that scores of volunteers are filling church basements to make hot meals, and food trucks are providing fast and free lunches in places where brick and mortar restaurants are still closed. Organizations such as the New York Coalition against Hunger and the Food Bank for NYC are working overtime to provide critical food supplies to pantries, evacuation shelters and senior centers across the region. The strength and resiliency of our east coast food family is incredibly inspiring and we stand by them on their road to rebuild.
Here at Bi-Rite, we’re pitching in by supporting Added Value, a Brooklyn-based non-profit empowering youth leaders to create a just and equitable food system. We’re sending them 100% of the sales of our Caramel Apple ice cream, thanks to our ever-generous partner Straus Family Creamery’s donation of the dairy ingredients. Added Value’s Red Hook Community Farm was no match for Sandy’s storm surge, which flooded their offices and completely destroyed their harvest, beehives and topsoil. Added Value’s farm, CSA program and weekly market provides critical access to healthy, affordable food for Red Hook.
We’re also partnering with INFRA (the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association, of which we’re a member) to create a disaster relief fund for members affected by Sandy and future natural disasters. Funds will go toward fellow small grocers restocking shelves, bringing back staff and re-opening their doors.
Although news coverage has died down, there’s still so much to be done for Hurricane Sandy victims. In short of volunteering your time, financial contributions are best. To learn how you can help, click here for a host of options. Be sure to listen to Heritage Radio Network and check out Added Value’s road to recovery. And let us know how you’re helping out!