Rethink Food Making Positive Impact on Queensbridge Community
On Sept. 20, New York City-based nonprofit Rethink Food’s team rolled up their sleeves and doled out Mexican and West African cuisine to those in Queens’ Queensbridge Houses, the largest housing project in North America. With 1.2 million New Yorkers lacking access to affordable and nutritious food as of 2022 , Eleven Madison Park restaurateur Daniel Humm saw an opportunity to become part of the solution. Humm co-founded Rethink Food in 2017 with Matt Jozwiak.
“Food is just such a powerful thing: Food touches everyone,” Humm said. “As we started this work, it just brought a lot of joy and happiness, and in the morning, when I get up, I know that the work really matters.”
Swiss-born food phenom Humm, who snagged his first Michelin star at just 24, says the Queensbridge community has now become a significant focus for Rethink Food’s support — and the locals are appreciative.
Queens resident Darryl Kelly sees Rethink Food’s presence in the area as a positive force.
“I work in Queens, and I always see them giving the food out, so I gave it a try. It’s a good thing they’re doing for this community,” Kelly told News 12.
Julian Cadena, another Queens community member, expressed his gratitude for the work Rethink Food is doing. “Somebody tell me, ‘You want some food?” Cadena told News 12. “I come over here, and there’s a lot of nice, beautiful people here.”
Through Rethink Food, residents of Queensbridge can rest a bit easier knowing that a nutrient-dense, culturally sensitive meal is available.
“Not only are we focused on nutrition, on hot meals that are fresh, produced today, but we’re also making sure that it’s culturally appropriate,” Queens Council Member Julie Won told News 12. “We make sure it’s halal, vegetarian, as well as meat and protein products, so we’re really catering to anybody looking for food.”
‘We Turned Eleven Madison Park Into a Community Kitchen’
While his posh eatery Eleven Madison Park was voted the World’s Best Restaurant in 2017 by the UK media company William Reed , and he’s held three prestigious Michelin stars since 2012, Humm has taken a humble approach when it comes to addressing the nation’s hunger crisis.
“Early in my career, it was so much about winning awards and feeding my ego and our team’s ego, but the truth is when our restaurant was named the best restaurant in the world, I wasn’t that happy, and I felt there had to be more,” Humm told News 12 in Queensbridge.
And then the pandemic hit, leading to more people going without and countless closures. As restaurants started locking their doors, that meant losing the main source of als.
Humm had to think outside of the box.
“Our industry was shut down and we turned Eleven Madison Park into a community kitchen, and we worked with Rethink to distribute meals into these neighborhoods,” Humm told News 12.
Established six years ago, Rethink Food has served more than 14 million meals to date, and that number is growing. Since April 2020, Rethink Food has partnered with more than 40 restaurants and food businesses and directed more than $50 million to local restaurants and communities — of which $35 million was funneled into NYC restaurants.
Rethink Food also captured the attention of ls.
Rethink Food’s Matt Jozwiak: ‘We’ve All Been There’
The work Rethink Food is doing with Queensbridge is a mere snapshot of the impact the organization is having on New York City and other cities throughout the nation such as Chicago, Miami, and Nashville, Tennessee. With 40% of the nation’s food supply going to waste, the team at Rethink Food visualized a more sustainable food system and put it into action one meal at a time. Every week, Rethink Food takes in thousands of pounds of donated excess food and transforms it into fresh meals with creative preparation and cooking accomplished by an entire team of highly skilled culinary professionals.
“There’s one in eight people that are food insecure, and they’re everywhere. And we’ve all been there,” Jozwiak says. “We’re really trying to change that narrative.”
Thinking about getting involved with Rethink Food? The nonprofit is actively seeking volunteers, restaurant partnerships, excess food donations, and funding. For more, visit https://www.rethinkfood.org/getinvolved.