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Food Bank
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Michael Symon and Mario Batali attend the Food Bank for New York City Can-Do Awards Dinner 2017 on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Food Bank for New York City)

The hunger epidemic is still at an all time high, and food banks across the country are doing all they can to help end this crisis by providing as many meals as possible to those in need.  Last night, some of those incredible people were honored at the Food Bank for New York City’s annual Can Do Awards, taking place at Cipriani’s Wall Street.  The event was star studded with amazing celebrities, surprise guests, and so much more, making it a huge night to remember!

The Chew cohosts Michael Symon and Mario Batali were the emcees for the event, who kept the crowd going with their upbeat personalities and colorful ensembles (Mario wearing his trademark Crocs, orange colored which echoed the color that represents hunger).  Michael and Mario have been apart of this organization for quite sometime, and are proud regarding pushing their message forward.“For myself, I just think the awareness is what makes us most proud, said Michael.  “We cook for a living, so when we make people more aware about food insecurity is a big accomplishment for all of us”.  Mario echoed similar sentiment- “Just continuing to evolve the way how you can massage the message into the regular conversation, about anything that anyone of these people want to talk about other than tonight’s event, is to keep it bringing it back to tonight’s event.

Also in attendance was Michael and Mario’s cohost, and my personal favorite Top Chef contestant of all time Carla Hall, who experienced first hand what it is like to go through food insecurity on a daily basis.  “I did the $1.20 a day challenge three or four years ago, and I think doing that changed how I’ve been doing things with hunger.  As a chef you give back, you do these events, but that one experience brought me closer to what people go through.  It was a physical awakening, because you think “Oh gosh, I only have this cup of soup for dinner”, and I think that sometimes in order to be empathetic you have to live in someone’s shoes.”

Food Bank
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 19: 42nd U.S. President Bill Clinton and Mario Batali speak on stage at the Food Bank for New York City Can-Do Awards Dinner 2017 on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Food Bank for New York City)

The night’s biggest surprise came towards the beginning of the ceremony, where Mario introduced a familiar face in former President Bill Clinton, who received a standing ovation from the entire crowd as all of us were incredibly thrilled to have him there.  President Clinton emphasized the need now, more than ever, to end hunger in New York City and you can tell his heart and passion was there when he spoke to the hundreds in attendance.

It was female empowerment to the max last night as all of the honorees for the gala were women, all tackling hunger in their own way but with the same purpose of ending it in our lifetime.  Lauren Bush Lauren was one of the honorees, as she is the founder of FEED, which creates great products that help feed the world’s most needed areas.  Lauren was incredibly touched by the event, as she broke down while thanking those around her who helped her get to this goal.

Other honorees were The BLK Projek Executive Director Tanya Fields and the Muslim Women’s Institute for Research and Development for their commitment to hunger relief.  Their passionate stories of their background and the hurdles they experienced along the way to get to last night was truly incredible and awe inspiring, and proof that if they can accomplish something of this capacity that anyone can.

There was also a silent auction that happened during the program, which raised enough money to serve millions of meals to the people of New York City.  It was great to see so many generous spirits in the crowd.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox attend the Food Bank for New York City Can-Do Awards Dinner 2017 on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Food Bank for New York City)
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 19: Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox attend the Food Bank for New York City Can-Do Awards Dinner 2017 on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Food Bank for New York City)

On top of Mario, Michael and President Clinton, there were several amazing celebrities in attendance who show a strong support of ending hunger in New York City for their own reasons.  This includes Michael J. Fox & Tracy Pollan, Joy Bryant, David Burtka, Amy Hargreaves, Billy Crudup, Zak DeOssie, Christine Evangelista, Dominic Fumusa, Adam Gettis, Ubah Hassan, Katie Lee, and Al Roker.

For more information about The Food Bank for New York City, please check out their official site.