Tuesday, August 4, 2015
My associate Anne and I in the office before we headed down to the Farmers Market.
My employer Ralph Lauren is super-committed to volunteering and philanthropy and making the world better. For instance, a big initiative of the company each October is the Pink Pony program which raises money and awareness for cancer care and research. In fact, The Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation funds the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in Harlem in order to provide excellent care in an underserved community.
Four times a year the Company sponsors Gives Back weeks, when employees around the world volunteer for a wide variety of organizations. Recently, myself and some associates signed up to help out City Harvest at the Union Square Farmers Market. TD and I love the Union Square Farmers Market where we shop for food and flowers every Saturday. The last chapter of my book is about the Market. City Harvest is an important organization here in New York which works to feed the city's hungry by gathering or "rescuing" food from restaurants, groceries, bakeries and farms. Our job at the end of the day at the Farmer's Market would be to gather leftover food from the farmers.
On a Wednesday night, my department associate Anne and I took the subway down to Union Square where we gathered with other Ralph Lauren volunteers and met a volunteer from City Harvest who gave us instructions. Armed with big plastic bags, we were directed to approach the farmers and ask if they had any leftovers to donate. The farmers had been through this drill before so they were familiar with the request.
We split up in groups and off we went. Some farmers had nothing to donate and some had A LOT. We filled the plastic bags and then the bags went in big plastic rolling carts.
We packed up loads of basil and herbs -
Beautiful red and yellow tomatoes -
Luscious peaches and firm green beans -
We stripped the tables bare -
The bags piled up in the big rolling carts -
All of the fresh food smelled and looked so good - I wanted to take it home myself!
We rolled the plastic carts to a big City Harvest truck. An employee there emptied the carts into the truck. It all happened pretty quickly as the farmers were packing up and going home. When we were done we were told that we had gathered 6,500 pounds of food in 190 bags which were going directly to a food bank in Brooklyn that night! That was satisfying.
That evening I posted a picture from the Market on Facebook, and a friend of ours who is a minister in Brooklyn left a comment saying that her church's food bank got a delivery from City Harvest every Wednesday night, and that perhaps the guests there were enjoying the very food that we had just packed up. Amazing!
Check out City Harvest - it's a great organization. And kudos to Ralph Lauren for encouraging employees to volunteer and help in important ways.