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Want To Get Involved With Rethink Food? Here’s Where You’ll Find It

Food for thought: In 2022, approximately 1.2 million New Yorkers, or 14.6% of the city’s population, faced uncertainty regarding their next meal, as reported by city officials.

But the problem isn’t confined to the Big Apple. Farther south, in the South Florida area — encompassing Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties — a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture highlights that over 1.2 million individuals, nearly 10% of the local population, including 13% of children, are facing inadequate food access. With startling statistics like these, Rethink Food’s purpose has never seemed more relevant.

Rethink Food is a nonprofit with headquarters in New York City and a Miami location working on putting quality over quantity in cities where its services are needed most — and it’s working.

Rethink Food’s New York Focus

Rethink Food was born out of a simple yet profound realization: While millions face hunger daily, significant amounts of food go unused. The founder, recognizing this paradox, set out to create a solution that addresses both issues simultaneously. The organization started with the idea of collecting surplus food from restaurants, caterers, and other food establishments. It’s since grown into dishing up, on average, 10,000 meals per week inside its commissary kitchen in NYC, thanks to the donated excess ingredients that make their way there.

“At Rethink Food’s commissary kitchen, we cook for a higher purpose every day: transforming excess food into meals and working to build better connections across our food system to support our local community,” Ken Baker, Rethink Food’s culinary director, revealed. “For us, a meal is not just a meal — it’s a conscious culinary experience meant to serve our neighbors with dignity and respect.”

While many of those experiencing food vulnerability have expressed concern about not having access to fresh food, the commissary kitchen churns out hot, culturally curated delights such as fresh corn polenta with quick jammy tomatoes and purple sweet potato coconut pie. For a $10 suggested donation, Rethink Food launched its own Holiday Recipes E-Cookbook in December. It’s downloadable at rethinkfood.org/holiday-season, and all proceeds collected fund future meals for those in need.

“The Rethink Food commissary kitchen is one of the most inventive and thoughtful culinary groups that you will ever meet,” Baker shared. “Everyone is a hands-on doer, finding creative and practical solutions to deploy excess food and create lasting change. We are full of heart.”

It takes a village to do such important work. Rethink Food has a plethora of restaurant and food partners throughout New York City pitching in, including Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park, Brookfield Properties, Chelsea Market, and many minority- or women-led businesses.

Making a Difference in Miami

Miami is often glamorized on social media for its luxurious weather, decadent night clubs swarming with celebrities, and exotic flow of sports cars frequently spotted cruising down Ocean Drive. Let’s face it: Much of the city is Instagram-worthy. However, there is a rising hunger problem in the area thanks to the skyrocketing cost of living.

A spokesperson for the brand explains that Rethink Food tailors its program to be location-specific. There are some slight variations between the Miami operations and those in New York.

In 2021, Rethink Food struck a partnership with The Genuine Hospitality Group, which includes hot spots like Amara at Paraiso and Michael’s Genuine.

“Our fundraising restaurant partners, The Genuine Hospitality Group, are adding a small donation surcharge to their menu, and the funds are directed to small local restaurants to support the preparation of community meals as part of their daily operation,” the spokesperson said. For every check that diners sign at Amara at Paraiso or Michael’s Genuine, a 2% donation goes to Rethink Food.

In 2023, Rethink Food expanded its operations in Miami to include River Oyster Bar, where 1% of checks are allocated to the nonprofit.

In 2023 alone, The Genuine Hospitality Group as a whole funded over 190,000 meals for those facing food insecurity in Miami-Dade County.

“At The Genuine Hospitality Group we aspire to not only provide world-class food and service, but to also be a mission-driven company using our platform and resources to positively impact our industry, our community, and our society,” Chef Michael Schwartz of The Genuine Hospitality Group said on rethinkfood.org.

“Through this partnership, Rethink Food has given us the opportunity to give back to our community in a direct way. We are excited to offer our guests a way to get involved as well.”

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has given Rethink Food accolades for its progress in South Florida.

“The work that Rethink Food and all the participating restaurants are doing for residents is truly inspirational, coming together to support families when they need it the most while also honoring and respecting their cultures,” Cava stated on Rethink Food’s website.

“It demonstrates what partnerships like this can accomplish and the impact it has on people’s lives. I am so proud and moved by what they do for our community every day, and I hope to see more collaborations like this in the future.”

Gepsie M. Metellus, the executive director of Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center, is another Rethink Food partner who acknowledges how two restaurants in her Little Haiti neighborhood have benefited from pairing with Rethink Food.

“It’s been a phenomenal partnership, and the invitation came just in time,” Metellus told Miami New Times. “We have been seeing an uptick in people asking if we would have food distribution again because we did in the past, and it ended. So when this opportunity came up, we were tickled pink, and so were our clients.”

How To Get Involved

Joining Rethink Food’s mission has never been easier. The enterprise is continually seeking good neighbors to join its network. The need ranges from restaurants and organizations that can donate excess food to volunteers needed for its commissary kitchen in New York.

For those in or visiting the New York area, Rethink Food sells tickets for $100 to tour its kitchen and participate in a tasting of some of the soups, snacks, and dips crafted from donated ingredients. In turn, every ticket purchased results in 20 nutritious meals for those in need.

Visit rethinkfood.org/getinvolved for a comprehensive list of ways to team up with Rethink Food.