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How Syd Mandelbaum and Rock and Wrap It Up! Fight Hunger

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Bruce Hornsby became our first national spokesman in 1994. We were launched by MTV on Labor Day weekend 1994 by their news chief, Kurt Loder. Kurt and I met years earlier, being the few men at a Joan Jett concert in 1988. We stayed friends and he and MTV News covered Branford's talk at Hofstra when he spoke. Kirk's two-minute piece got us hundreds of volunteers and helped launch us. Bruce's credibility as a musician helped us to get more bands.

What does the "Rock" portion of Rock and Wrap It Up! refer to?

As we started as a music based charity, the name was a play on the types of music we were working with Rock and Roll and Rap.

Was including popular musicians, athletes and teams important partly because of their celebrity, making it "cool" to recover food?

Jerry Garcia and Mandelbaum Deadheads

Yes. We did not include them as much as work with them. Their celebrity was used more to help get students to participate in our School Program. We have 25 celebrities sign blank certificates of appreciation and gave them to students who started food recovery programs in our schools, to emulate the bands and teams. The most popular ones were Dave Matthews, Anthony Kedis, David Wright and Eli Manning.

Your parents were Holocaust survivors. Is there a connection between that fact and what you have chosen to do with your life?

I have dedicated my work to their survival as teenagers over all odds. Their parents were murdered on June 8, 1942, when the entire Jewish population of the town of Szczkowa, Poland, was gassed and cremated. My parents were slaves and were starved in German concentration camps. I heard these stories growing up and vowed to end hunger in their honor. I wear tattoos on my arms, which reminds me each day about their lives.

Syd, Dylan and Ryan

You mentioned before that while you have kept up your food redistribution, your think tank is working on reducing poverty. Can you explain what the difference is between the two?

Hunger is a symptom of poverty. We work to attack the root causes of poverty. The great Gandhi once said "Poverty is equal to violence and hunger inflicts its deepest wound."

A new book came out recently to rave reviews called Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal. In it, British author Tristram Stuart claims that as much as 50% of all food is wasted in the US. Are you familiar with the book? Its coming out now can't help but buttress your efforts.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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