Mets pack apples for the poor

Volunteers pack apples for the poor at Citi Field.

Volunteers pack apples for the poor at Citi Field. Photo by Andrew LeRay.

The Mets have not been able to give too much to their fans this season. Those who follow the team know all too well of the heartbreaking losses and nagging injuries the team has suffered, but yesterday, the Mets and Citi teamed up with City Harvest to re-pack thousands of apples for distribution to agencies who feed the hungry in New York City in an effort to give back.

The event, organized by Citi’s New York State Leadership Council, took place in front of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field before the Mets’ Wednesday night game against the Florida Marlins. The re-pack was Citi’s closing event in response to United We Serve, President Obama’s volunteer service initiative.

“We have a great, long-standing relationship with the Mets and Citi, whom we’ve been working with for over the last year,” said Erin Bennett, City Harvest’s Associate Director of Corporate and Community Affairs. Two large truckloads of apples were spread out across three tables, surrounded by a number of volunteers from Citi and the New York Mets organizations. A total of 25,000 pounds of apples were re-packed by the end of the day.

City Harvest, organized in 1982, is the world’s first and New York City’s only food rescue program. Their main job is to link the food industry and numerous organizations, foundations, corporations, and citizens together to help feed the hungry. City Harvest regularly delivers food to nearly 600 emergency food programs in New York City, helping to provide food for over 260,000 people each week.

Representing the Mets was former player and fan favorite, Rusty Staub. A six-time All-Star during his career, Staub has since traded in his place in the locker room for a front-office position with the New York Mets. He is also known for establishing the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, which has seen charitable contributions upwards of $112 million since September 11, 2001. But on this day, Mr. Staub was just another volunteer, hard at work for the benefit of the less fortunate. “I’m pleased to be a small part of what they do and make people aware of how much they do to help,” said Staub.

Staub has previous experience with City Harvest from his days as owner and manager of his own Cajun restaurant, “Rusty’s,” in Manhattan. “I remember when City Harvest’s first refrigerated truck came to pick up food from the restaurant,” said Staub. “It’s incredible the volume that they pick up and how much they help.”

Representing Citi at the re-packing event was Peter Knitzer, Chair of Citi’s New York State Leadership Council. “We want to give back, not just with money, but with ourselves,” said Knitzer. Recently, despite the financial troubles Citi has faced, and the $20 billion buyout at the hands of the taxpaying public, Citi has reached out to increase their alliances with community organizations and charities. Relationships with City Harvest, New York Cares, and Habitat for Humanity have all been forged in the recent past. For Mr. Knitzer, the satisfaction comes with working at similar charitable functions. “It’s the best part of my job because I get to see all these people and get to do something that’s good for the community.”

As fans began filing into Citi Field for the evening’s game, volunteers worked intently to re-pack the apples and prepare them for delivery to the hungry. “They’re going out tonight,” said Bennett of the re-packed apples. “They will start to reach mouths this evening.”