28 October 2013

A Beastie Boy Comes to Rockaway Beach

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.  I’ve been reading so many stories today about how a number of outlets that raised money to help victims rebuild are still sitting on the money. This ranges from government organizations to private non-profits. 
That just seems shameful to me that a full year later, there are still people in need and there are billions (yes, with a B) in aid that could help them and the money is held up in red tape. 
But some non-profits rushed in and just started helping and didn’t worry too much about where the money was going to come from or if donations would cover their outlay. They saw people in crisis and knew postponing aid wasn’t an option. 
Or in other cases, they were people who didn’t have a formal structure, they just responded to a need. Such was the case with the Beastie Boys’ Mike D, celebrity chef Sam Talbot and restauranteur Rob McKinley. Immediately-- as in within three days-- of the storm, while grocery stores and restaurants were still shuttered from the hurricane, they started a traveling food truck that traveled to the decimated Rockaway Beach and fed 500 people every day. They used all their connections and tied in with local Manhattan restaurants and for several months provided a hot meal for free every day. 
Now, with the immediate crisis over, but with Rockaway Beach far from recovered economically, they have converted the food truck from a charitable endeavor into a sustainable business run by locals. This summer, the food truck began serving the beach community. Even better, it is staffed by Rockaway locals, so it creates jobs. The plan now is to start a community garden in Rockaway that uses compost from the food truck and food from the garden will be used on the truck. 
I did a story on the food truck for Entrepreneur magazine, but had refrained from giving until after the article ran. It’s a wonderful example of not waiting to dive in and realizing you have so many resources at your disposal to help when your desire is strong enough and the need dire enough. 

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