Super Bowl Causes Soup Kitchen Wing Shortage

Masbia Soup Kitchen relied on a consistent list of affordable products to feed the many New Yorkers facing food insecurity during the pandemic. But the charity network faced an unexpected challenge last week as one of its most important things was flying off the shelves because of the Super Bowl: chicken wings.

Alex Rapaport, director of Masbia, a kosher soup kitchen, initially said he didn’t know why there were problems buying the usual kitchen wing order from vendors, but then realized it was because of the big game.

“During the pandemic, we relied on Chicken Wings to stretch our charity funds and buy lots of protein, but for the past few weeks I’ve been wondering why this is such a problem. Then it hit me, oh it’s the Super Bowl when everyone likes to chew on chicken wings, which is what causes this shortage, “he said.

In the past few years, the Super Bowl never caused a supply problem for the local charity, but Rapaport said part of the problem is that demand has increased 500% since the pandemic last March.

“We use chicken wings as protein, because that way our donations are used optimally,” said Rapaport.

But the kitchen had to adapt and find an alternative kosher protein quickly, at least until the game celebration was over. One of his suppliers suggested using ground chicken. At first Rapaport hesitated. They had never provided it before and concerned people wouldn’t know how to cook it. But the kitchen staff worked together and created a recipe that was distributed with each bag of food.

“This was a new product that I never actually worked with. It was fun playing with new ideas and trying them out in different ways. This was a preparation that really helped me. It’s an easy way, ”said Jordana Hirschel, cook and chief operating officer at Masbia Soup Kitchen Network. “Especially on Super Bowl Sunday you just pour it into a pan and throw it in the oven. Then you can prepare for the big game.”

Rapaport said many New Yorkers will be eating chicken wings on Sunday nights while enjoying the game while others will learn to cook a new meal for the first time. He says if the New Yorkers who rely on their services enjoy the ground chicken, it could stay here.

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