Every Monday, Frankie Chan and Liang Yang can be found walking on their own from Betty Pendler New York League Program C to arrive at Black Seed Bagel in the Lower East Side by 4pm. When they arrive, they exchange greetings with the servers who proceed to hand them bags of uneaten bagels that would otherwise have been thrown away. Next, they stop at Baz Bagel & Restaurant a couple blocks away to make their second pick up. Finally, they haul their cargo to The Bowery Mission, where they drop off the food to get weighed and distributed to the area’s homeless population. Frankie and Liang are volunteers for Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, an organization that brings uneaten food from restaurants to homeless shelters and soup kitchens around New York City.
When they first started volunteering, they were accompanied by their Community Support Supervisor, Ruben Giraldo, but since January of this year, they have been walking the entire route by themselves. Yuliya Khripunkova, Transition Developer for the Adult Day Services Curriculum Team, emphasized their independence: “They go each week without us reminding them and are completely independent in this project,” she said.
Frankie explained, “We go without Ruben because we know what to do.” They do so because they enjoy the independence, but they also understand the importance of bringing the food to people in need.
While both Frankie and Liang speak with modesty about the work they do, Robert Lee, the CEO of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine has a different take: “Frankie and Liang have been invaluable volunteers since they started to help last year. It is amazing to have such dedicated, reliable, and punctual volunteers helping out on such a regular basis. Both have ensured that food that would otherwise be thrown away are used to feed the hungry, and their time in making this happen is what keeps our organization going. Their efforts have helped us to feed thousands of hungry people. Frankie has also become one of our esteemed Lead Rescuers, and he ensures that the excess food is rescued rain, sleet, or shine because food waste and hunger do not rest in these conditions.”
Frankie and Liang are not the only AHRC NYC volunteers to partner with Rescuing Leftover Cuisine. Other people who receive supports through AHRC NYC’s New York League Program C deliver leftover cupcakes from Dessert Club, ChikaLicious each morning to Bowery Mission, and people who receive supports through AHRC NYC’s Wendy Siegel Adult Day Center deliver leftover pastries from Ceci Cela to the South Side Mission in Williamsburg, four days a week. With the help of dedicated volunteers from AHRC NYC, thousands of New York’s less fortunate have been able to access to quality meals that they would otherwise be unable to afford.