Due to the precarious nature of their business, New York City street vendors’ livelihoods are dependent on knowing and exercising their rights. In this virtual program, we will look at examples that illustrate how vendors navigate the city’s legal and regulatory environment, including the complex permitting process. We also examine how street vendors have engaged, historically and today, with the political process through collective action and advocacy, and explore how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting vendors and the industry as a whole in the current moment.>> Continue reading
Potatoes are a staple of the American diet, and a lot of them grow within commuting distance of New York City. On this program, we will connect with Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, where Bob Leiby, an agronomist for the Pennsylvania Cooperative Potato Growers, joins us to discuss what goes into producing potatoes, the challenges of climate change, and new potato varieties and farming techniques under development to meet the challenges of today and the future. Bob Leiby spent his lifetime studying potatoes, raising his first crop as a 10-year-old 4-H member. He received his BS in Agronomy from Delaware Valley College and his Master’s from Penn State studying population dynamics of the Colorado Potato Beetle. He worked for Penn State Extension as a County Agricultural Agent for 36 years. At Pennsylvania Cooperative Potato Growers, he continues to test new potato varieties and growing techniques, and he has also traveled to China and Kyrgyzstan to work on potato issues.
Hunts Point in the Bronx is the world’s largest food distribution center, yet few New Yorkers have ever visited. In order to demystify this place and the city’s food system, designers Lilian Yi-Hsuan Lin, Ángel Lamar Oliveras, and Beverly Chou created Race to Hunts Point, a strategy board game designed for high school students in which players must use resources to successfully operate cultivation, shipping, and trading processes in the food supply chain. In this virtual program, Lilian will walk us through the design, fabrication, and gameplay of Race to Hunts Point, which was created through the FWRD Fellowship for designers and engineers with NYCEDC’s Futureworks.
Street vending has been a part of New York City’s public life for hundreds of years, often taken up by newcomers to the country and New Yorkers excluded from the formal economy, as a means of starting a small business. For this special virtual program, Cindy VandenBosch and Andrew Gustafson will explore street vending history from the 19th century to today and examine how the city’s physical, culinary, artistic, and legal landscape has been shaped by vendors. We’ll also be joined for a special visit from street vendor MD Alam, calling in from his food cart Royal Grill Halal Food to share with us how his business has survived during COVID-19.
This program is fundraiser for the non-profit Street Vendor Project, a project of the Urban Justice Center, and is not part of our ongoing Virtual Program series or included in our Membership program
During the pandemic, as many as two million New Yorkers are struggling with food insecurity, a longstanding challenge that has been exacerbated by the crisis. In this virtual program, we will be joined by Dr. Eliza Whiteman Kinsey, Associate Research Scientist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, who will provide historical perspective on food access in New York City and nationally.
Ten years ago our very own Brian Hoffman embarked on a journey to discover the most iconic foods in New York City. In addition to creating videos and articles on his blog Eat This NY, he spent years writing for local publications like Midtown Lunch and Gothamist. During that time he ate, explored, and documented the stories and places in New York to get the most iconic slice of pizza, the freshest bagel with cream cheese, and the juiciest delicatessen sandwich, among other specialities. Join him for a look back at his favorite places in the city and to learn about why certain dishes have become such important cultural icons.
During the pandemic, supermarkets are the few public places that people still frequent, so this is a perfect time to look back at the history of grocery stores in America and New York City. From Piggly Wiggly to Whole Foods to Korean grocers, this virtual program will look at important moments in the evolution of food markets over the past century, including the creation of modern consumer food packaging, the rise and fall of grocery chains, and the impact of suburbanization. We will also look at how retailers have adapted to the unique challenges of operating in New York City, and how we are all adapting to shopping in a world with COVID-19. This program is presented with support from Brooklyn Historical Society.
- “The Poison Squad,” PBS American Experience
- Harlem Food Co-op Documentary (excerpt)
- Kalustyan’s Wholesale Spices
- Titan Foods
Celebrate National Manufacturing Day on Friday, Oct. 4 on a guided tour at the Brooklyn Navy Yard focused on interior design and fabrication The tour will begin with an introduction to the Yard’s story, with an emphasis on the diverse array of products, goods, and objects designed and manufactured on-site over the last two centuries. Next, visitors will walk the 30,000-square-foot factory floor of Ferra Designs, a company that specializes in custom-built architectural metalwork, and visit the studio of textile maker AVO, and speak directly to some of the craftspeople redefining manufacturing and making at the Yard today. This tour is great for anyone interested in art, design, craft, and manufacturing as well as those interested in history and the continued social and economic impact of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Metalworking and woodworking is one of the largest manufacturing sectors in New York City, but it is eclipsed by food production, processing, and packaging, which employs more than 17,000 New Yorkers. On Oct. 4 we will also be hosting a tour of de Royal Dinges Factory, a commercial kitchen and food truck commissary that produces more than 7,000 waffles daily for Wafels & Dinges, one of the most successful street food businesses in the city (and finalist at this year’s Vendy Awards). Visitors will learn how commissaries work to support the thousands of food carts and trucks around the city, walk through the production line, and even get to put their hands in some dough to make their own authentic Liège wafel.
The best day of the year is fast approaching: Saturday, September 21, 2019, the day of the 15th – and final – New York City Vendy Awards. For 15 years, the Street Vendor Project has been convening carts, trucks, and pop-ups to serve up the best street food New York City has to offer, in order to raise awareness about the plight of vendors and raise money for their vital mission. Started in 2005 with just four vendors gathered in commissary garage in the East Village, and attended by just 250 guests, the Vendys have grown into one of the city’s premiere food events, featuring two dozen vendors and 2,000+ attendees flocking to Governors Island.
This year’s competition will feature three categories instead of the usual five: Best Dessert, Best Freshman (for first-time Vendy competitors), and the All-Star Vendy Cup, featuring 15 vendors that have collectively earned 25 nominations, nine Vendy Awards, and three Vendy Cup championships, including two finalists from the first Vendys in 2005, Tony Dragon’s and NY Dosas (see the full list of 2019 nominees). The event is all-you-can-eat-and-drink, and all of the proceeds benefit the Street Vendor Project. This may be the final Vendys, but SVP will continue to support and celebrate the vendor community, so stay connected, and you can prepare for the Vendys by joining one of our Food Cart Tours.
15th Annual Vendy Awards