A cool new cookbook from LES restaurants is raising funds to fight food insecurity

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On the day before Valentine’s Day this year, show some love to a mutual aid group doing great things on the Lower East Side.

Canal Cafeteria, a donation-based and volunteer-operated organization, makes fresh, locally grown produce available to community members each Saturday on the LES. Located on a different street corner every week (the location is announced on Friday afternoons), the group provides pay-what-you-can fresh produce bags. Similar to a CSA, the produce offered each week is based on what’s currently available at local farms. Since June, the organization has filled over 1,000 tote bags with almost 10,000 pounds of produce for individuals and families on the LES.

Now, the organization is looking to expand their operations into a brick-and-mortar space in the neighborhood. To do so, they’ve set up an online fundraiser to raise $100,000 over the next three months to cover the costs of rent, operations and other expenses. 

Photograph: Courtesy Canal Cafeteria/Andres Castillo

As an additional fundraising push, some of the neighborhood’s best restaurants—including Wildair, Regina’s Grocery, Las Lap, JaJaJa, Kopitiam, Gem and more—have teamed up to create a new cookbook illustrated by Lauren Martin and Bianca Valle and designed by Fabian Von Hauske. The cookbook, which would make for an ideal gift for anyone who lives on the Lower East Side, knows someone who does or just loves the area, will be released on Canal Cafeteria’s website on February 13. A launch party is tentatively scheduled to take place on that same day at the new local bookstore, Sweet Pickle Books.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in getting more involved in the organization, you can find more information on donating, volunteering and more on their site.

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