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Judging and Healing the World

October 6, 2015

Sometimes the world feels like an awful place. I’m not sure how many of you have been following the US bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Yes, it’s in the news, but hearing about the shelling from the perspective of hospital staff on the ground is truly horrifying.

My read on the situation is that 22 patients and staff of the hospital were killed. That’s twelve staff members, seven adult patients, and three juvenile patients. It does not look like an accident. The US Military was provided the GPS coordinates of the hospital from Doctors Without Borders to make sure it wasn’t inadvertently targeted.

But it would seem that the airstrike was called in by the Afghanistan military, who had an ongoing grudge against the hospital for healing people regardless of their side in the conflict. And it kills me that this is going on in our name. This is not okay.

Of course, this is just one of the many, many things that is broken in the world today. The good news is that there are people out there who are working hard to heal the world. Some of this takes place in our own backyard. And I’m thrilled to be working with a group of these folks on a benefit this week.

The Food Pantries for the Capital District is working to help alleviate one of the most surprising problems in our community, and that is food insecurity. The truth is that it’s flabbergasting this is an issue, especially considering how much food is wasted in America.

If you’re hungry, or don’t know where your next meal is coming from, it has a huge impact on every aspect of your life.

There’s a lot people can do to help The Food Pantries fulfill its mission. But this week, it’s easier than ever. Because Thursday is the organization’s annual Harvest Evening Celebration fundraiser. This year it will be held at Revolution Hall in Troy, and promises to be a delicious night out.

Last year I served as a judge for the evening’s Chefs’ Challenge, and I’ll be in the same role again later this week. What I love about this event is that The Food Pantries challenges the chefs to come up with something extraordinary using ingredients they might find at one of the distribution centers throughout the region.

Last year I was quite impressed with what Jennifer Hewes from The Point Restaurant & Lounge put up, and while she didn’t win, perhaps this year she’ll come with something to prove. Lou Agostinello from Athos is new this year, but people have been showering a lot of praise on his work lately. Nigel Peters from Brown’s Brewing Co. is also a new addition.

I can’t remember who came from the Co-op Cafe at Honest Weight last year. Maybe it was Michele Youngs. But I do remember their African spiced peanut butter soup. That was delicious. This year the local natural food market will go toe to toe with the national natural food behemoth, in the form of Lisa Turk, from Whole Foods Market Albany. So it will be fun to see these two go head to head in competition.

Like last year, I’ll be judging with William Harris, the president of our local chapter of Chaine Des Rotisseurs. But this year Yelp Elite Steve N. will be joining us, as will Chef Yono Purnomo who also happens to be a distinguished member of the Chaine Des Rotisseurs.

Tickets are still available. And you too can come and join in the festivities while helping to support a dedicated group of individuals who are working hard every day to improve the lives of people in our community.

If you do come, you should know that Yelp is a sponsor, and will be giving away an amazing bag packed full of Yelp Schwag. So, make sure to have the mobile app downloaded to your phone, so you can check into the event and get a free raffle ticket for more Yelpy goodness than you could ever imagine.

Hope to see you there.

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