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The Hell’s Kitchen Community Cupboard is hosting a neighborhood gathering today to mark its anniversary milestone, celebrating one year of the food pantry and community building programming.

The HK Community Cupboard offers free food to all outside the Ryan Chelsea-Clinton Health Center on 10th Avenue. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The 10th Avenue food share in front of the Ryan Chelsea-Clinton Health Center invites West Siders to join them at Mathews-Palmer Park at noon (W45th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue) for an afternoon of cake and other treats to celebrate the volunteers, partners and businesses who have supported the cupboard over the past year. The New York Chapter of Gay4Good will be on hand to help to bag fruit, vegetables, and other ready-to-eat groceries to share with neighbors — and anyone stopping by the cupboard will be able to admire its new artwork painted by local artist Adriana Rojas with consultation and collaboration from Ella Ri and Janet Restino.

The HK Cupboard was founded in 2021 by neighborhood residents interested in reducing food waste and food insecurity in Midtown West. Open every day, the share is based on the principle of mutual aid and solely operates through the organization and contribution of fellow community residents and businesses. The cupboard’s mission is to build community care and foster a culture where you “take what you need, and leave what you can”, with no questions asked and no judgment, says its volunteers and founders.

Caitlin Marshall, one of the group’s organizers, looked back over the year and reflected on the cupboard’s impact, estimating that “at least 500 community members per week visit, whether that’s to share or take food, or just to stop by and say hello as we’re putting food in the cupboard!” 

In addition to a few large anonymous “angel” donations, the cupboard has received regular help from local businesses and organizations like the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, the 43rd Street Fruit Stand, Stony Hill Farms, Amy’s Bread, Sullivan Street Bakery and grocery delivery service Gorillas. “One Community Church and Rudy’s Bar & Grill have also been instrumental partners – they have hosted donation bins, helped raise money, and have even made sandwiches for the Cupboard,” said Caitlin, adding, “we’re always looking for new partners who can help in any way!” 

Volunteers will celebrate on year of the HK Community Cupboard this weekend. Photo supplied

In the year ahead, the group hopes to keep up the momentum of distributions and to increase the number of food rescues to reduce food waste and give everyone in the area access to healthy, fresh fare. Volunteers hope to expand the cupboard’s offerings by adding a fridge to their equipment and ask that anyone with leads on a location with the required capabilities contact them. Caitlin said that anyone who would like to support the cupboard on Saturday can “bring non-perishable foods to help us stock the cupboard, and of course, we would appreciate it if people could help with monetary donations as well (@hkfridge on Venmo). Every little bit helps us to reduce food waste and food insecurity in Hell‘s Kitchen!” 

The cupboard is also looking for long-term regular volunteers to help with social media, new partnership outreach, fundraising and the cleaning and maintenance of the cupboard. Anyone interested in getting involved can reach out to  hkcommunityfridge@gmail.com said Caitlin, adding: “We want Hell’s Kitchen to think of the cupboard as a community space that belongs to us all, where you can drop off any food you might not need or take any food that’s there, and meet other neighbors while you are there.” 

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