Thursday, October 24, 2013

Restaurant Week scores another hit in Binghamton

Restaurant Week co-founder Piero Lisio of Little Venice Restaurant, right, presents an $8,534 check to Mike Leahey, director of the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. Restaurant Week organizers held a news conference Friday touting the event's success in boosting local business and helping a local charity. / ANTHONY BORRELLI / Staff Photo

Restaurant Week — a 10-day event to promote Binghamton’s dining diversity — wrapped up Sept. 26 with a record-breaking 21,822 meals served and $8,534 worth of proceeds donated to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), organizers announced Friday at a news conference in Remlik’s Grille & Oyster Bar.

Restaurant Week has two editions each year. Chefs at 24 participating restaurants develop their own three-course menus for the event, each tailored for new and returning diners as a guide for what the restaurant has to offer.

The first Restaurant Week four years ago featured seven restaurants that served 6,800 meals during the event.

“When it started, it was an idea we thought would spur people to eat downtown,” said Piero Lisio, a partner at Little Venice Restaurant and the event’s co-founder. “We thought it would not only boost business, but also help a local charity and it’s since expanded.”

Mike Leahey, director of CHOW, said the funds will be a critical help for those in the community who depend on food donations, especially as the holiday season approaches.

CHOW provided more than 700,000 free meals to the needy in 2012. An estimated 40 percent of those served were children, Leahey said.

“We’re very thankful we live in a community where people support our local businesses and our businesses support a charity,” he said.

The previous Restaurant Week in March raised $7,259 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Binghamton.

In addition to its charitable element, Restaurant Week serves as sales boost for local eateries.

Joshua B. Ludzki, a Restaurant Week co-organizer, said the dedication of servers, dishwashers and other restaurant staff play as key a role in the success as the teamwork of restaurant owners who employ them.

“It would be really easy for these restaurants to be competitors,” Ludzki said. “Instead, what we have in Binghamton is this incredible cooperation.”

Restaurant owners said the event plays a key role in encouraging customers to explore new places and fill up tables during weekdays that might otherwise be slow.

“It’s great to see all the new faces; this has been our busiest Restaurant Week ever,” said Ed Wesoloski, a partner at Remlik’s.

Coupled with the recent influx of students and young professionals, events like Restaurant Week have helped create “a vibrancy that hasn’t been downtown for many years,” said Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan.

Another factor in helping the event prosper has been its ability to draw more customers from local communities outside Binghamton, Lisio said.

“Our hope is that people keep coming here even when it’s not Restaurant Week,” Lisio said. “It’s impossible to eat at all the restaurants in 10 days, so support them year-round — that’s the big message.”

Written by
Anthony Borrelli

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ending hunger, step by step

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The 31st annual CHOW Hunger Walk drew hundreds to Binghamton University Sunday.

With every step, the people of Broome County were one step closer to ending hunger in their community.

"People don't realize that some people don't have any food," said Gavi Hecht, a Binghamton University sophomore.

The money raised will benefit the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, also known as CHOW.
CHOW gave out more than 700,000 free meals last year.

For every dollar donated, they are able to provide four more meals to those in need.

The director of CHOW, Mike Leahey, said the organization gives out more than 100,000 free meals each month to Broome County's homeless and hungry.

"Our goal is to provide 200,000 additional meals to the community," he said. "Over forty percent of the meals we provide every month go to our children in this community, so that's just heartbreaking."

Leahey said he expected up to 1,000 people to come out for the cause.

The crowd included numerous Binghamton University students, some working the event as volunteers.

"It's a good way to benefit the less fortunate," said Johnathan Mendez, a member of Sigma Beta Rho fraternity. "I'm just volunteering myself, a helping hand with all of my friends, so show everyone a good time while you're walking for a good cause."

Putting their feet to the pavement meant an opportunity to learn.

According to CHOW, more than 33,000 people in Broome County are living in poverty.

"If you think about the percentages of people that are starving, I mean just look at ten people I don't know, but maybe three or two of them are starving," Gavi Hecht said,"I think it's important that everybody not only comes out here to support, but finds out what else they can do to help."

CHOW has 30 food pantries and 30 soup kitchens across Broome County.

Over 700 volunteer at 31st annual CHOW walk

Binghamton University students and Broome County residents gathered at the East Gym on Sunday to satisfy their hunger for fundraising.
Volunteers from the student body and local community participate in the 31st annual Hunger Walk Sunday afternoon. Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) held the walk, which circled campus around the Brain.
Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) held its 31st annual Hunger Walk, with an estimated 700 to 1000 volunteers attending to help the cause, according to CHOW director Michael Leahey.

Since 1976, CHOW, along with the University’s Center for Civil Engagement (CCE), has been providing free food to those in need in Broome County.

“It’s our best opportunity to be able to highlight the issue of hunger in the community and to be able to educate people about the issue of hunger,” Leahey said. “For every dollar we raise it ends up providing four meals in the community.”

Since 1982, CHOW, which is managed by the Broome County Council of Churches, invited Broome County residents and BU students to walk to raise awareness and funds for the less fortunate. CHOW donated over 700,000 free meals last year.

“We moved to campus a few years ago, and we have a lot of students’ support,” Leahey said. “With that move, Sodexo, they donated food. Everyone has really donated a lot of time, a lot of volunteers. We’re very lucky.”

Collaboration between CCE, community members and the University seems to be helping CHOW’s turnout. CHOW has 30 pantries and two farms. Broome Bounty, a division of CHOW, is the sole food recovery program in the county, collecting food from local suppliers.

Other fundraisers such as the Jim “Mudcat” Grant All-Star Golf Tournament and the Great New York State Chili Championship also aim to raise funds and awareness about hunger in the community. In 2012, CHOW reportedly served about two million pounds of food to those in need in Broome County through its soup kitchens and community meal programs.

“We do little things, we do big things. It involves a huge community, and I think every year we have more people that have never walked before,” said Carol Herz, a local resident of Binghamton and a CHOW volunteer for the past three years.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Around the Tiers: CHOW Hunger Walk

 Broome County Council of Churches will host its 31st annual CHOW Hunger Walk.
The 31st Annual CHOW Hunger Walk will be held Sunday, October 20 on the campus at Binghamton University.

Walkers may obtain registration envelopes prior to the walk at the Broome County Council of Churches office at 3 Otseningo St., Binghamton or call 724-9130 for more information.

You may also register beginning at 1 p.m. the day of the walk, which begins at 2 p.m.

Each individual raising $50 or more will receive a free walk t-shirt. All participants receive buttons.

The walk will be on the campus of Binghamton University and the walk and activities will begin at the East Gym.

Immediately after the walk, there will be free food, live music by the Beatles Band, appearances by the B-Mets and Senators Mascots, the ZooMobile, the Magic Paintbrush Project, bagpipers and games for children.

The goal for the walk is raising funds to provide 250,000 meals for hungry people in Broome County. Individuals, families and groups are invited to participate.

By Chelsea Bishop

Monday, October 14, 2013

CHOW Hunger Walk

The holiday season means a lot of things to different people, but to those in poverty-especially children- it can mean struggling for food.

The Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse will have its 31st Annual CHOW Hunger Walk October 20th at the East Gym at Binghamton University.

This year their will be live music, the Broome County Zoomobile, and activities from the Magic Paintbrush Project.

Through CHOW's program,  every one dollar raised is leveraged into seven dollars in food, which provides four meals.

"The cold weather is settling in and the holidays are coming, and that always provides a spike for us with a need for emergency food assistance. I'd like to remind the community that we have approximately a two week school break this year and we have thousands of young people who live in poverty who won't have access to those meals," said Mike Leahey the Director of CHOW. 

CHOW has provided more than 700,000 free meals in 2012 40% of the recipients were children according to the Broome County Council of Churches.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Giving Back and Sticking Around?

Students looking to volunteer and community organizations gathered in the Mandela Room at BU Thursday in hopes of helping each other. Students are given the chance to possibly earn credit for internships, form long lasting partnerships or just help out where ever they're needed.

"This is a great opportunity. We've had hundreds of students come by already, we're very excited about talking to them about how they could be of help to us and how we might be able to help them," said Larry Denniston of the Broome County Council of Churches.

Larry Denniston from the Broome County Council of Churches has been working very closely with one student run volunteer group to prepare for a hunger walk.

"We help out the community by just putting on events for people. If an organization comes to us and they say they need this amount of volunteers to run a 5K we will provide those volunteers for them and help them out in any way we can," said Erin Small of the Student Volunteer Center.

And helping the community may help keep these students in the community after graduation.

"And often this turns into something more than just volunteering sometimes they'll do an internship for credit. Sometimes they graduate and they're even hired locally which is something we're always striving for," said Allison Alden the Director of the Center of Civic Engagement at BU.

"Going on out of college I know a lot of different people from the community that I never would have met if I had just sat in my dorm so it was really rewarding that way," said Erin Small.