A SECOND HARVEST
Written for the Winterfest Online 2023 “Plot Bunny” Chat Project
Plot bunny selected from The Warren:
Helpers/Hearthside: Stores and restaurants
dispose of so much edible food. Such waste!
Is it? Things are different in NYC where Helpers keep watch.
* * *
“Here you go, George,” said Henry Pei, as he handed the last box of leftover food from the restaurant’s evening dinner rush. “Thanks so much for adding us to your route.”
“It’s my pleasure, Henry,” replied George Robinson, placing the box in the back of his delivery van. “I’m so glad you signed onto this project at Winterfest. If we all work together – all the Helpers with grocery stores, bodegas, butcher shops, and restaurants – we can help provide our leftover food for William’s kitchen Below and to local food pantries and soup kitchens.”
“It’s a terrific project,” Henry agreed. “I just wish we’d thought of it sooner. I hate to think about all of the food we had to discard over the years because of health codes, when it could have been put to immediate use to feed hungry people.”
The two men worked together to pull down the sliding door at the back of the van, emblazoned with the name of George’s store – Robinson’s Grocery – and then shook hands.
“Oh, by the way, congratulations on opening your new store next week,” Henry added.
“Thanks so much,” George replied. “I hope you and Lin and little Vivian will be able to come to our grand opening. Mr. Burch, I mean, Mr. Kaczmarek said he’s sent invitations to all of the Helpers on Father’s list.”
“We certainly will,” Henry answered with a grin. “Stan is so excited that you and Shirley agreed to open your second grocery store in his building. You’ll have a built-in clientele right there in the building, between the low-income housing tenants, the dining hall Stan has put in for both his tenants and his foundation staff, as well as folks throughout that area. That neighborhood has needed a real grocery store for a long time.”
George grinned in return. “It was a great opportunity for us. We’d been looking for a second location to expand our business, but as I’m sure you know, it can be difficult to find building proprietors who are willing to take a chance on a minority, family-owned business rather than a big chain. This new location in Mr. Kaczmarek’s building is a dream come true. Shirley and I can’t wait for the rooftop garden to start producing fresh vegetables for the dining hall, the folks Below, and the store.”
“We’ll see you at the opening,” Henry replied. “I’m sure you’ll be a big success. Please give my greetings to Sister John the Baptist when you stop at the St. Francis Soup Kitchen. Tell her, I hope her guests enjoy all the chicken fried rice, egg rolls, and beef with broccoli. We were supposed to help cater a party that got canceled at the last minute, and the host said to just donate the food when he paid the bill.”
“I sure will,” George said as he waved good-bye and jumped into the driver’s seat of the van.
George smiled with satisfaction; one more stop at David Lee’s deli and then he could bring this eagerly awaited second harvest to the soup kitchen and to William. It felt good to know that all this delicious food wouldn’t go to waste!
Author’s Note: In my imagination, this effort on the part of Helpers eventually becomes a nonprofit food collection organization called A Second Harvest.