Philanthropist Laurie Tisch has expanded on the $1.5 million in seed money she gave New York’s Green Cart with a cookbook tied to the initiative’s efforts to bring more fruits and vegetables to lower-income neighborhoods.
Three years ago her nonprofit Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund made the financial gift to jumpstart a drive that places wheeled produce stands in neighborhoods where the diet tends to be short of such foods.
“The Green Cart Cookbook” (Firstline Creative & Media), a compilation of recipes funded by Tisch and released today, aims to show cart customers how to buy for and create healthy dishes.
“I was so surprised to learn that there were neighborhoods that had almost no access to healthy foods,” said Tisch, 60, the daughter of the late Loews Corp. (L) chairman, Preston Robert Tisch. “People could go to grocery stores, but they had to take a bus or a train -- a lot of transportation -- to get there.”
Tisch enlisted some of New York’s best chefs to create recipes, including Tom Colicchio, chef and owner of New York’s Craft and the head judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef”; Bill Telepan of the Upper West Side’s Telepan restaurant; and Ethiopia-born Marcus Samuelsson, who opened Harlem’s Red Rooster in October.
Alice Waters, the owner of the restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, and one of the early advocates of using seasonal ingredients, shared her formula for minestrone soup. Samuelsson wrote a pear-pumpkin salad recipe. Telepan gives his take on vegetable bread soup. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Mohammed Ali, a green-cart vendor in Brooklyn, also pitched in recipes.
The printing of the first 10,000 cookbooks, which will be distributed free at green carts, will be paid for by Tisch’s charity.
“So not only will fruits and vegetables be accessible but what to do them will also be accessible,” Tisch said.
Tisch said one of the cookbook’s earliest supporters was New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who wrote the foreword. Other U.S. cities have expressed an interest in using New York’s program as a model, she said.
“Judging that there are more than 500 carts on the street, it’s got to be working,” Tisch said about the program. “It’s certainly not the whole answer to curbing health problems, but it’s a great beginning.”
Among her first major acts of philanthropy was the founding of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan in 1973, where she serves as chairman emeritus of the board. She’s also chairman emeritus of the Center for Arts Education, which advocates support for arts education in New York schools. Tisch is also a co-owner and a board member of the National Football League’s New York Giants football team.
The 7,200-square-foot Laurie Tisch Illumination Fund Lawn offers a green space at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Tisch also sits on the boards of Lincoln Center and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and she serves as vice chairman of Columbia University’s Teachers College’s board.
Her fund is underwriting “Moveable Feast,” a photographic exhibition about green-cart owners that opens this week at the Museum of the City of New York. A documentary, “The Apple Pushers,” about the city’s green carts and their operators, will be completed in May.
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