Rock And Wrap It Up! Continues Collecting Food From Venues For Needy, Seeks Donations

Rock and Wrap
– Rock and Wrap

The economic havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an enormous spike in food insecurity as well as highlighting the importance of food pantries and charities like hunger relief organization Rock and Wrap It Up!

Rock and Wrap It Up! CEO and founder Syd Mandelbaum first began food recovery at Jones Beach Theatre in Wantagh, N.Y., in 1991, picking up leftover catering food after shows at the venue to deliver to a local soup kitchen. The idea, which was dreamed up during a meeting with Mandelbaum and promoter Ron Delsener, expanded on a national level in 1994 to be included in bands’ tour riders that food prepared but not served must be donated to feed the hungry rather than ending up in landfills. Volunteers from Rock and Wrap It Up! arrange for the recovery, picking up the food and delivering it to a food bank or shelter. Rock and Wrap It Up! also works with schools, sports teams, the film and entertainment industry, and hospitals to recover food. Several hotel chains have also partnered with the non-profit to donate toiletries.
Last year RWU recovered nearly 750,000 pounds of food and delivered it to those in need. Since launching the anti-hunger agency, which has evolved into an anti-poverty think tank, Rock and Wrap It up! has kept a billion pounds of food and other reusable assets out of landfills.
With concerts, sporting events and the film industry shut down because of COVID-19, one would think most of Rock and Wrap It Up’s sources for food donations would have also been placed on hold until the economy reopens, but since the pandemic broke out in the U.S. in March, the organization has continued to recover food from select venues including 25,000 pounds from New York’s Madison Square Garden. 
“MSG had three events canceled in a row: Knicks, Rangers, Billy Joel. We recovered two box truck loads over two days with different partner agencies picking up and giving out at each of their programs,” Mandelbaum told Pollstar. “MSG called me last week to say that because of them not opening in May, all of their short-dated items can be recovered. We already have an agency lined up next Wednesday.”
Donations from MSG went to Woodycrest United Methodist Outreach Program, United Methodist Church of Bushwick and United Methodist Church of White Plains.  

Mandelbaum & Murthy – Mandelbaum & Murthy
Syd Mandelbaum poses with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy during a White House event highlighting the U.S. Global Change’s recent report.
Rock and Wrap It Up! also recovered 6,000 pounds of food from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., which was donated to Feed The Children of Newark. Another 80,000 pounds of food was recovered from Universal Studios in Los Angeles, with donations going to organizations including Help the Children, Christian Outreach in Action, Hollywood Food Coalition and Valley Food Bank. The organization will be picking up 40,000 pounds of food from Yankee Stadium on April 30 because the baseball season is on hold. 
Although those food recovery efforts have been a bright spot during these dark times, the need of those who are hungry and/or out of work is greater than ever 
RWU has a fundraiser scheduled in June that may need to be moved because of the pandemic.  The organization sent an email April 24 asking its board and supporters to send in donations “so we do not run out of vital funds to do our work.” Dinner reservations for the fundraiser will be applied when the event takes place. 
Mandelbaum told Pollstar, “We are waiting to hear from the Rockaway Hunting Club [in Lawrence, N.Y.] where we will hold the event for another date. We are in need of financial support to continue our vital work. All of us are on unemployment insurance now but are working more hours each day than ever before to feed the at-risk population which depends on us nationwide. We see dark times ahead for the needy. 
He added, “If Pollstar and their readers want to help us, checks can be written to Rock and Wrap It Up 405 Oceanpoint Ave. Cedarhurst, N.Y., 11516. We also accept Paypal on our website This is our 29th of doing food recovery. We have fed over one billion people with the help of rock ’n’ roll. Our first band was the Rolling Stones and our first American band was Aerosmith. We have recovered food from over 160 bands since we started.”
Rock and Wrap It Up!’s mantra is to reduce the poverty footprint by reducing the carbon footprint. Supporters can use RWU’s Whole Earth Calculator available on the organization’s website by entering the amount of food recovered to convert into total meals served, greenhouse gases diverted from landfills and gallons of water saved. The Whole Earth Calculator is based on information from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and USDA guidelines. 
Mandelbaum was inspired to fight hunger by his parents who survived the Holocaust after almost starving to death in concentration camps as teenagers. Over the course of his career he’s served in a variety of roles that have given back to others including spending 18 years as a human rights commissioner as well as working as a scientist doing DNA, genetics and cancer research for think tanks across the country. He also introduced and helped pass the Federal Food Donation Act in 2008 and served in the United States Air Force Academy.