Win or lose after each home game at the TD Garden the Boston Bruins score major points for the Boston Rescue
Throughout the 2010-2011 hockey season the Boston Bruins have been donating surplus concession food at the end of each home game to the Boston Rescue Mission. The Bruins contributions to the Rescue Mission are part of an NHL wide partnership with Rock and Wrap it Up Inc. to donate excess concession food to area shelters. This program is part of a national initiative developed by the Cedarhurst, a New York non-profit organization/ anti-poverty think tank Rock
and Wrap it Up Inc.
Shortly after the NHL teamed up with Rock and Wrap it Up the Boston Bruins contacted the Boston Rescue Mission and offered to donate their surplus concession food.
“We received a call from the Garden asking us if we would be interested and if that would be something that would be helpful to us,” said According to Michael Way, Vice President of Programs for the Boston Rescue Mission. “We set up a meeting and went down and talk to them and we were able to put things in place and work out a way to transport the food here in a very timely way, in a very practical way, so it was a win for them and a win for us
“It’s literally tons of food that is not being disposed of, they are not paying fees to have to dispose of and we’re taking that good quality food and giving it to people who can benefit from it. So it’s been a win, win for everyone.”
According to Way, the food donated from the Garden has been enough to provide seven full meals a week.
“It’s a very significant contribution. We’re serving about 500 meals a day here to people on the street and to people who are in our program,” said Way. “I was just talking to our chef and he was saying that the contributions we’re receiving from the Garden are probably giving us a goof, full seven meals a week. That’s pretty significant, that helps us a great deal.”
Although the Bruins have donated surplus concession food since the start if the 2010-11 season, the idea for this program started more than twenty years ago, in 1990, after New York rock promoter Ron Delsener offered backstage food from venues he managed to Syd Mendelbaum, Founder of Rock and Wrap it Up Inc. In 1991 Delsener allowed Mandelbaum to rescue food from a theater and deliver it to a local shelter that he helped found. While this food wasn’t a lot, Mandelbaum realized that surplus food was available at arenas and stadiums nationwide.
The collaboration between Delsener and Mandelbaun helped the RWU take off. Mandelbaum proceeded to contact venues all over the country and insisted that unused food be donated to local shelter and meals programs. He got the Rolling Stones to commit to language changes in their touring contacts, specifying the donation of all surplus food to local charities. Other music groups joined the field. As this collaboration between Mandelbaum and music groups grew he quite his medical consultants-scientist job at the Harvard Medical School and worked full-time as Rock and Wrap it Up’s CEO.
“The concept for RWU has changed over the past twenty year,” said Syd Mandelbaum, Founder and President of Rock and Wrap it Up Inc. “It started as a way to have backstage left over food from touring rock bans simply not going into landfills, but to feed the hungry.”
RWU was introduced to New England in 1994. One of the first local bands with a national tour schedule and fan following was the Boston-based Aerosmith. The partnership with Aerosmith quickly led to collaborations with people in the music industry nationwide. Then in the fall of 1994, MTV helped launch RWU on its cable network after Kurt Loder did a news peace on the organization. The news peace ran for one week with 100 people contacting Mandelbaum offering to volunteer across America.
Over the next decade this food program forged collaborations with both local and national partners regarding the donation of surplus food. Even the Democratic and Republican National Conventions joined the program in 2000.
The College Wrap Up program began at Duke University in 2000. Then in 2003 Detroit Tigers pitcher Mike Morath and his wife Becky contacted Mandelbaum and asked how they could help. Then in 2005 the New York Giants suggested donated concessions were available after each home game and the sports food donation program started to take off. The New York Jets joined the program the year after. The New York Yankees and Madison Square Garden contacted RWU and also joined the program. Yale University affiliated with RWU in 2009 and donated surplus food from its New Haven college campus.
Mandelbaum went on to elaborate more on the transformation of RWU domestically into a national food clearinghouse.
“RWU encourages students to emulate rock musicians,” said Mandelbaum. “We recommend that they collect the unused food from their high school and college campuses and donate it to feed the hungry-poor.”
RWU expanded its sport food donation program big time in 2010 with a partnership with the NHL. Twenty-five teams are located in the United States and five of these teams are north in Canada.
“The (NHL) was looking to expand their green effort,” said Mandelbaum. “We were invited to make a food recovery presentation before the Commissioner, Gary Bettman.”
Mandelbaum noted that Commissioner Bettman presented their food recovery donation proposal to the owners committee, Board of Governors. The Board of Governors president is Jermey Jacobs, the owner of the Boston Bruins. He is also the owner of Delaware North Corporation, the concessionaire for the TD Garden in Boston.
According to Paul LaCaruba, Coordinator in Public Affairs for the NHL, it took six months from June through late October 2010 for the program to be implemented. This program was filed tested during the 2010-11 exhibition season.
“In the 2010-11 season all thirty teams, Bruins included, joined the RWU program,” said LaCaruba. “Since October
2010 the RWU program has reprocessed 103 tons of food. This represents 208,000 pounds for the league since the start of the season.”
Mandelbaum also pointed out the criteria used in the selection process for predetermining local food agency partners.
“We select and verify the food agencies that will work with each of our NHL team partners, said Mandelbaum. “Each agency must have a local health certificate and be an agency that has a large food donation need, and have experience serving large groups.”
Arrangements such as the one between the Garden and BRM are protected by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996. This law protects food donors from liability as long as the donor is acting in good faith and took all of the possible sanitary measures to handle the food safely. The bill also sets a legal floor defining gross negligence as voluntary and conscious conduct by those with knowledge at the time of conduct likely to harm the health or well-being of people.
Mandelbaum spoke about how he would like to see RWU continue to expand and grow.
“We would like to expand into colleges and do non-food recovery work for refrigerators and beds,” said Mandelbaum. “We would like to also expand into the Hotel Industry and do non-food recovery work of room beddings and televisions.
“We would like to do more global expansion with the NHL as they look into Europe,” continued Mandelbaum.
According to LaCaruba that the NHL is very happy with the RWU program and players are very supportive of the program and some even come down after games to help RWU volunteers pack up food for local food agencies.
Robert Sondak is a Spare Change vender and writer. Robert studied Food Science and Dietetics at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. Robert graduated with a Bachelors Degree from the University of Massachusetts, Boston College of Public and Community Service (CPCS). Previously worked at Massachusetts General Hospital and the New England Medical. Currently Robert is the Executive Director of the Nutrition Education Outreach Project,
(Logo courtesy of the NHL)