The four-day South Beach Wine and Food Festival is an exercise in excess. Think delectable pork burgers topped with both fatty bacon and moist pulled pork, as they were at Burger Bash.
While the event caters to those with thick wallets and a high threshold for gluttony, what happens to all the leftovers when the crowds go home?
For the past 3 years, Brian Phelan has been making sure that no jamon and manchego croqueta with fig marmalade goes to waste. This year, he and Feeding South Florida collected nearly 30,000 pounds of South Beach Wine and Food Festival leftovers and sent them to ten local soup kitchens.
Phelan, Feeding South Florida's Director of Food Procurement, told HuffPost Miami that he and a team of 60 volunteers parked a refrigerated truck at the festival's events, collecting food for some of South Florida's 900,000 in need.
At the Whole Foods Grand Tasting Village, they passed out aluminum tins to all the vendors, who spent the last hour of the day collecting their leftovers for Feeding South Florida.
Phelan and his volunteers then used golf carts to bus the tins back to the refrigerated truck, which transported the leftovers to local agencies like the Miami Rescue Mission and Camillus House.
This year, Phelan partnered with Florida International University's Social Welfare program, and noticed a big jump in the number of volunteers as well as their enthusiasm. Some even started with the morning shift at 8 a.m. and stayed through the evening until 5:30 a.m.
"They were amazing," Phelan told HuffPost Miami. "Because of their curriculum, they are able to really understand how we were helping people. I was explaining to some of them that with Burger Bash, the thousands pounds of hamburgers we saved provided at least 4,000 to 5,000 meals for people that don't have the opportunity to have that. And at the Q, we rescued thousand of pounds of ribs."
Phelan told HuffPost Miami that not all food makes the cut. "I love fish. It's such a phenomenal protein but it's so sensitive to time and temperature."
Each tin of food was weighed and categorized, but Phelan doesn't yet have an exact breakdown of just how many Kobe beef sliders, barbeque tofu, and braised short ribs were saved this year. He believes it at least matches last year's total of 28,000 pounds.
Phelan also said that many of the agencies will freeze a portion of the donated food, meaning South Florida's hungry will dine on gourmet eats from some of the best chefs in the country for the next several weeks.
- Assist in the fight to feed South Florida's hungry by making an individual monetary donation -- every dollar donated means Feeding South Florida can distribute 7 pounds of food.
- Or give your free time and volunteer. Contact Volunteer Coordinator Leroy Green at 954-518-1863 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Join their "I CAN! Help End Child Hunger Can You?" advocacy program to raise awareness about South Florida's hungry.
- Urge your employer to enroll in the Payroll Giving program, in which $5 is donated from each paycheck.