With one in five Westchester County residents being food insecure, spreading awareness has been a mission of the Food Bank for Westchester. And one local writer came up with a creative way to encourage conversations on dealing with hunger in a county that many see as wealthy.
Kate Schlientz, also known as IntoxiKate, is a food and drink writer who focuses on Westchester and Fairfield counties. Schlientz has partnered with the Food Bank this September, which is Hunger Action Month, to launch the Eating for Orange initiative.
Eating for Orange showcases dishes from more than 20 Westchester restaurants featuring orange ingredients in a bid to raise awareness on the issue of hunger. The color orange is known to stimulate the appetite, and has therefore been chosen as the color to signify a call to action for hunger awareness during Hunger Action Month.
Schlientz said that when planning a campaign around hunger awareness, she struggled with the notion of posting pictures of food and people enjoying it. “I’m asking people who have money to go out and eat, and talk about people who can’t eat,” she admitted.
However, Schlientz ultimately felt that eating brings people together. “All great conversations happen over food,” she said. “This is a really great time to sit down with family and friends, and to really talk about the issue that’s going on.”
Schlientz said that the Food Bank for Westchester, a nonprofit organization, approached her recently to be a social media ambassador to help “paint Westchester orange in September”; IntoxiKate boasts more than 9,000 followers total on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
“We’re trying to use a way that people are already doing; everyone is already hashtagging their food,” she said. “Just add something else in [a post] about what’s going on in communities to help educate people…. It costs nothing and takes virtually five seconds.”
Participating restaurants in the initiative from all over Westchester have been seen at various charity events. “All of these restaurants are always so willing to come to these events, and hand out food and wine,” Schlientz said. “So we thought, why not ask them to highlight an orange dish on their menu, and to use all of our social media platforms for good.”
Schlientz added that the whole county is represented with restaurants from all over Westchester, and the restaurants can use their own social media platforms to create a “spider web effect” to reach and educate patrons on those in Westchester who either qualify as hungry or food insecure.
Restaurants participating in Eating for Orange include: Chocolations, of Mamaroneck, which is offering chocolate-dipped orange peel; Empire City Casino, of Yonkers, is offering four dishes at its various eateries and an orange blossom martini at the bar; La Bocca, of White Plains, is serving pappardelle alla bolognese; Rye House, of Port Chester, is offering voodoo shrimp with creole rémoulade and Hamachi ceviche; and Saltaire, of Port Chester, serving seared lemon fish scallopinis with a lobster coral sauce.
Kristina Magana, communications coordinator at the Food Bank for Westchester, said the nonprofit is excited to be working with IntoxiKate. “This is a great opportunity to come out and learn more about hunger in our community and ways to help,” she said.
For more information on the Eating for Orange initiative and participating restaurants, visit intoxikate.com/eatingfororange. For information on the Food Bank for Westchester, visit foodbankforwestchester.org.