After the South Beach Wine & Food Festival wraps up and folks stumble on home, the tents are put away. Party goers face the work week and their impending juice diets. I wondered, “What happens to the leftovers?”
A lot of the food goes to Feeding South Florida, in a massive “food rescue” effort coordinated by Brian Phelan of Feeding South Florida, along with fellow employees and a small army of volunteers from FIU and UM. It’s not just the hospitality students either. The night of the Burger Bash, there was a large crew of students from the school of social work.
This year, Phelan estimates that his team rescued 33,000 pounds of food (update: the final tally was 41,000 lbs of food). That’s more than enough to feed every single person watching the Heat play in the American Airlines Arena and then some. This isn’t food that was ever placed before guests. For health reasons, they can only take food that was safely stored away in coolers or hot boxes.
The food goes to places like Helping Hands, a soup kitchen and community center in Boca Raton where families can enjoy a different menu than they would typically eat on a Monday night. They might partake of buffalo burgers, pulled pork or lamb burgers left over from the bash or some pasta with fresh vegetables and a gourmet sauce donated after the Grand Tasting. The usual Monday night menu at the soup kitchen? “Beef stew,” says James Gavrilos, director of Helping Hands.
“People have an image of your average person in a soup kitchen and what they’re picturing is a guy with a scraggly beard, a torn jacket. The reality is very different.” Gavrilos says many of the people who visit the soup kitchen are families that have homes and in which one or two people might have jobs. Yet they just aren’t making it. For them, a restaurant-quality meal like this might have once been an ordinary affair, he says, but now it’s an unaffordable luxury.
Photos of the food rescue after the Burger Bash follow. Thanks to Leticia De Mello Bueno for assistance with the photography.