Besides attracting thousands of visitors daily, rock concerts, hockey games and hotel chains have something else in common -- tons of food left once the guests are gone. But some of that food is being put to good use, thanks to Syd Mandelbaum, the founder of Rock and Wrap It Up! -- an anti-poverty think tank that recovers unwanted prepared food and gets it to where it's desperately needed.
Launched nationally in 1994, Rock and Wrap It Up! got its start by asking rock bands -- like Aerosmith and Bon Jovi -- to require in their tour contracts that leftover food prepared for the band and crew be donated to the hungry. Rock and Wrap It Up! would wrap up the prepared but untouched meals after concerts and other events and deliver them to local food banks and charitable agencies, along with toiletries and cleaning products donated by hotels, schools and other organizations.
Today, Rock and Wrap It Up! has fed more than 500 million people, supports over 43,000 agencies in North America, and is partnered not only with 150 bands, but with professional sports franchises, colleges, hotel chains, film and television producers and even the entire National Hockey League, with Major League Baseball considering signing on as well.
Mandelbaum's passion for stopping hunger and poverty was influenced by his own personal history. Both of his parents are Holocaust survivors who almost starved to death as teenagers in Nazi concentration camps.
"I want to change this country so that what my parents went through, no one in this country has to go through -- hunger," Mandelbaum told NBC Nightly News.
NBC reports that at Boston's TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins, up to 25 tons of food would get tossed every year. Now, much of that food has been diverted from the landfill; Instead, it's donated to Boston Rescue Mission, which serves hundreds of hungry people each day.
How you can help Rock and Wrap It Up!
Do you have assets to donate that could help feed the hungry and fight poverty? Contributing organizations incur no additional financial costs or human resource commitment and are protected by law to donate food without liability. If you are involved with a sports team or league, hotel, music company or band, film crew or television network, school or university, or any other organization with assets to donate, please visit Rock and Wrap It Up!'s donation page to find out how to help. Don't happen to own a venue? Donate your time by becoming a Rock and Wrap It Up! volunteer.