By Cindi Avila
Tis the season for giving and we at ICE are proud to say that the school and our students give back year round. Things have been especially busy over the holiday season and we wouldn’t have it any other way. For Thanksgiving, we donated our kitchens to prepare meals for The Partnership for the Homeless and the By Any Meals’ Campaign (recently featured on NBC’s The Grio). Thanks to these wonderful organizations hundreds of hungry New Yorkers enjoyed a hot holiday meal.
ICE President & CEO Rick Smilow says, “There are many reasons why I think it’s important for ICE to ‘give back’ and be charitable. First, we have been fortunate over the last 18 years—through some combination of skill, luck and fortitude—to build a sizable school. We have the resources and scale to do things to help organizations and communities that do not benefit from that combination.”
When you think about cooking schools you may not instantly think charity, but Smilow points out that the two actually go hand and hand, “It really goes with the territory. Culinary and hospitality endeavors have as part of their core, the goal of making people happy and content. Chefs, restaurateurs, caterers, etc. do that every day. As a culinary school, we have the same DNA.”
This effort goes beyond sharing our space and material resources; hundreds of our students donated their time in 2013 to charity work. ICE Culinary Relations Manager, Virginia Monaco explains, “While we often use luxury ingredients and our kitchens are generously stocked, most students and chefs are aware of the reality that many people struggle to simply feed themselves. They feel a responsibility to use their culinary training to give back and help those in need. By donating their time and skill, chefs and students can directly help those most vulnerable and take pride in their contributions to charitable organizations.”
The school encourages students to participate, but we’re proud to say it’s easy to find volunteers for such charities as Wellness in the Schools, City Meals on Wheels & Action Against Hunger. Monaco says, “I’m glad to see how eager most students are to use their new found skills in the kitchen to give back to the community. There are so many organizations and charities to choose from; we direct our students towards those with a proven track record, a history of working with ICE, and who most directly support those in need in New York City.”
Three organizations in particular receive ongoing support in the form of space, time, money or service from ICE. The groups include City Harvest (NYC hunger & poverty relief), Career Through Culinary Arts Program (culinary training and scholarships for disadvantaged NYC teens) and STREETS International (culinary & hospitality job training for orphans in Hoi An, Vietnam).
But outside of the school’s ongoing efforts, ICE has often helped raise funds in the case of unexpected tragedies, as in the case of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Smilow says when the Typhoon hit he just knew that ICE had to do its part to help, “The Philippine Typhoon took place just before our annual holiday gift card marketing began, so I thought it would be a nice idea to generate some fast fundraising from gift card sales. The organization earmarked for the funds, Action Against Hunger, is very fast, efficient and thoughtful in delivering truly life saving aid (food, water, sanitation) when disasters strike in less developed nations.” ICE was proud to donate 25% of all sales from that promotion to AAH, totaling $7,750 of much needed aid.
We would like to thank all the ICE staff and students who helped make these relief efforts possible in 2013, and encourage others to take an interest in these reputable charities and their awe-inspiring work. Wishing a very safe, happy and healthy holiday to all!