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Emeril Lagasse Honored for Philanthropic Efforts at Food Bank for New York City's Eighth Annual Can-Do Awards Dinner

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 General News J E 4
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Chef/Author Mario Batali and Susan Cahn Co-Chair, Stanley Tucci Hosts

NEW YORK, March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Food Bank For New York City — the city's major provider of food to New Yorkers in need — announced today it will honor legendary chef and food innovator, Emeril Lagasse, for his philanthropic efforts to end hunger, at the organizations Eighth Annual Can-Do Awards Dinner on Tuesday, April 20, at Abigail Kirsch's Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on the Hudson River.  Co-chairing the dinner is Chef/Author Mario Batali and his wife Susan Cahn. Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee, Stanley Tucci, will host. The evening will include cocktails followed by dinner, awards, a live auction and yet-to-be announced musical performances. Previous Can-Do honorees include Jon Bon Jovi, the Edge, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Stipe, Helena Christensen, Mario Batali and Stanley Tucci.

Emeril Lagasse — chef, restaurateur, television personality and author — has demonstrated a steadfast support for the Food Bank and its effort to end hunger in New York City. Whether creating a lunchbox for the Food Bank's inaugural Lunchbox Auction in 2005, or continually boosting the Food Bank's financial bottom line by participating in several Can-Do Awards Dinner Auctions; Emeril's contributions to raising awareness of hunger in New York City are immeasurable.

Further, Lagasse has dedicated his time, talents and abundant enthusiasm to inspire, mentor, and enable hundreds of young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive and creative individuals.

"Children's nutrition is very near and dear to my heart," says Emeril Lagasse. "It is a great pleasure to help New York area kids with the Food Bank. We share in our commitment to inspire and help kids—especially those who are disadvantaged—live better, healthier lives."

In 2002, Emeril established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children's educational programs that inspire and mentor young people through the culinary arts, nutrition, healthy eating, and other important life skills Projects funded by the Foundation include outdoor classrooms, gardens, a fresh foods cafeteria and a teaching kitchen at Edible Schoolyard New Orleans; an accessible learning kitchen for special needs students at St. Michael Special School; a four-year culinary arts curriculum for high school students at New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts; and a culinary learning center for hospitality training for at-risk youth at Cafe Reconcile. Each fall, the foundation hosts its primary annual fundraiser, Carnivale du Vin, which has consistently ranked among the "Top Ten U.S. Charity Wine Auctions" in Wine Spectator magazine. As of November 2009, the Foundation has given over $3.2 million to children's causes in New Orleans, Las Vegas and on the Gulf Coast.

The Can-Do Awards Dinner is instrumental in helping to provide support for the 1.3 million New Yorkers who rely on soup kitchens and food pantries to survive. Every dollar donated to the Food Bank helps provide five meals. This is a crucially important year for the Can-Do Gala as the unemployment rate hits an all-time high of 10.6 percent. That's more than double the city's 4.8 percent unemployment rate at the start of the recession, and higher than the national average of 10 percent. And the need continues to rise. More than nine out of 10 food assistance sites have witnessed an increase in first-time clients. The number of New York City residents having difficulty affording needed food is 3.3 million, a 60 percent increase since 2003 — and representing 40 percent of all New York City residents.

"Emeril Lagasse has continually supported the efforts of the Food Bank and our mutual quest to end hunger. And, we applaud his efforts to reach the hearts and minds of young people and to enrich their lives through the creative art of cooking so that they may look towards a bright future of creativity, opportunity and hope...a goal which we share," said Lucy Cabrera, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Food Bank For New York City. "These are difficult times. Never in the Food Bank's 27 year history have we seen so many people struggle to put food on the table. We are fortunate to have Chef Emeril on our side, who explains his support simply by saying: 'BAM! This is about feeding people. That's why we're here.'"

Food Bank For New York City recognizes 27 years as the city's major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs. The Food Bank works to increase access to affordable, nutritious food for low-income New Yorkers through a range of programs and services that focus on food sourcing and distribution, nutrition and health education, financial empowerment, disaster relief and policy and research.

Food Bank For New York City sources and distributes food to a network of approximately 1,000 food assistance programs citywide, helping to provide 300,000 free meals a day to New Yorkers in need. The Food Bank strengthens the impact of our network through food safety and capacity-building workshops; offers a hands-on nutrition education program to New York City public schools, reaching over 14,000 children, teens and adults; conducts food stamp prescreening and outreach; operates a soup kitchen and food pantry; coordinates the largest civilian Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program in the country; and develops policy and conducts research to inform community and government efforts to end food poverty throughout New York City. Every dollar donated to the Food Bank helps provide five meals to New Yorkers in need. For additional information, visit www.foodbanknyc.org.

Individual tickets are $650 and tables start at $12,000. To reserve tickets, contact the Food Bank's Benefit Office: 212.249.6188 or jennifer.kunin@verizon.net

Media contacts:

Mary Kaye Daniels / BWR Public Relations / 212.901.3938 / marykaye.daniels@bwr-ny.com

Stacy Brock Quinn / BWR Public Relations / 212.901.3943 / stacy.brock@bwr-ny.com

SOURCE Food Bank For New York City

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