"They told us that if we didn't take them, they were going to throw them out"
(roundly criticized for ineffectively using the hundreds of millions of dollars in donationsthey've received to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. If one were to distill the organization's disconnection from the people they're serving into a single image, it might look like a trash bag full of cooked, broken hamburgers.
The Red Cross has been
On Monday, volunteers at the makeshift relief center on Beach 96th Street said a Red Cross vehicle dropped off a trashbag of cooked burgers, and another trashbag full of buns. "They told us that if we didn't take them, they were going to throw them out, so we handed out as many as we could," said Matt Calender, one of the organizers of the relief effort on 96th Street. "But this is the only time the Red Cross has dropped anything off to us—we already have hot food, why are they just arbitrarily dropping off hot food? With all their resources, isn't there a safer, cleaner way of doing this? The hamburgers were warm, who knows how that's affecting the plastic."
Calender added that the timing of the Red Cross' delivery was also poor: "They dropped them off at like 4, or 4:30. Most people start heading into their homes here at dusk, and we were shutting down. I would have rather them contacted us to say, 'We want to donate food, what is the best way to do that?' "
The Red Cross provided blankets to the relief center, which is now called Smallwater, several weeks ago, but volunteers had to pick them up at a distribution site. That has been the extent of the relationship between the giant, bureaucratic symbol of international relief and the makeshift volunteer hub.
We wrote about Smallwater's abundance of tasty, hot food for residents and relief workers, which exists in part thanks to volunteer labor, food donations, and a partnership between the Food Truck Association and the Mayor's Fund. We also tasted one of the Red Cross' hamburgers last month, which tasted identical to the fare in our elementary school cafeteria.
Read more: Gothamist