Working with a decades-old nonprofit, Hollywood and the meetings industry help feed those in need.
Cutting down on food waste has never been more urgent than during the COVID pandemic and its aftermath, when growing numbers of people are facing food insecurity. California Meetings + Events checked in with Amy Reiley, a Los Angeles-based colleague with Rock and Wrap It Up! (RWU), a nonprofit that has been helping find solutions to hunger for nearly 30 years.
CAM+E: Tell us about your role with Rock and Wrap It Up!.
AR: I’m the director of film and television asset recovery. I work with our nine studio partners, as well as independent productions, to recover leftover catering and craft service foods on a daily basis from film shoot locations across the U.S. and Canada.
CAM+E: What’s the mission of RWU?
AR: We’re an anti-poverty think tank with the mission of increasing assets for our partner agencies in their fight against poverty.
CAM+E: What has been RWU’s impact in California?
AR: Although Rock & Wrap It Up! is based in New York, California has really become a jumping-off point for many of our programs. For example, Hotel & Conference Wrap! started at Langham Huntington in Pasadena. Working with concert venues, some of our first bands, like the Grateful Dead, were based in California as were many of our early supporters, like Sharon Osbourne. And of course, Southern California is the center of our film and television program, Project It’s a Wrap! In addition, the first colleges to set up School Wrap! programs were USC and UCLA.
CAM+E: How did you pivot during the coronavirus crisis?
AR: Our main focus became large venues. Because of prior relationships with arenas and stadiums, they knew to call us to get their perishable foods moved very quickly. And because we work with a network of agencies in each area, we were able to bring in multiple shelters and food banks at once to move thousands of pounds of food at a time.
That doesn’t mean we neglected our other partners. For film and television, we concentrated on bringing in smaller agencies to clean out everything from the remaining craft service to office refrigerators. For example, the day it was announced that nonessential businesses were to shut down in Los Angeles, we were able to get Grandview Foundation in Pasadena to clean out the remaining 200 pounds of frozen food and dry goods from the offices of the ABC show “Stumptown,” while the Valley Food Bank helped Warner Brothers distribute the unused perishables in their commissary to those in need.
We cleared out Universal Studios Hollywood with five truckloads picked up in mid-March. The food went to Help the Children, Christian Outreach in Action, Hollywood Food Coalition and Bridge to Home. The total donation was over 28,000 pounds.
CAM+E: How can conferences and conventions help during the pandemic and beyond?
AR: We recommend that meetings and conferences consider food waste during the planning stage. Contact Rock & Wrap It Up! or your food recovery agency of choice before the event begins to schedule food recovery. We operate under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. This federal bill protects any donor from legal liability when donating food to a nonprofit organization like Rock & Wrap It Up!
CAM+E: What would you like the meetings industry to take away from this experience of mobilizing to help those in need?
AR: With advanced planning, the meetings industry can play a pivotal part in helping America’s most vulnerable citizens. It’s business as usual for us. The one thing that’s different is that it sometimes takes a little more planning right now to make sure that the items get to the right place and are picked up and delivered safely.