Hunger museum feels a pang
A month after international relief organization Mercy Corps cut the ribbon on its hunger museum in Battery Park City, one community board member is raising questions about the nonprofits background.
Tom Goodkind, from Community Board 1s B.P.C. Committee, thinks the community should have vetted Mercy Corps before the Battery Park City Authority gave the organization rent-free space in the Riverhouse condo building for the next 30 years.
Im not saying what they do isnt terrific it might be great, Goodkind said. But I think its the wrong choice.
Goodkind would prefer to see a hunger organization like Action Against Hunger run the museum, rather than a relief organization like Mercy Corps. He objects because Mercy Corps offered relief to Lebanon but not Israel during the conflict several summers ago.
Time and time again I see them supporting one side and not the other, Goodkind said. I dont want my children to think that thats the way you fight hunger I want my children taught that you give to both sides.
George Devendorf, a vice president at Mercy Corps who worked on the Action Center to End World Hunger in B.P.C., said Mercy Corps does not take sides but works wherever they see a need.
Neutrality is critical to everything we do, Devendorf said, since appearing political could endanger Mercy Corps workers. Mercy Corps was already working in southern Lebanon at the time of the Israel-Lebanon conflict, and the Lebanese government asked for assistance, while the Israeli government did not, Devendorf said. Mercy Corps provided links on its Web site to several organizations offering aid to Israel.
Anthony Notaro, a C.B. 1 member, defended Mercy Corps when Goodkind questioned their mission several years ago, and he defended the organization again this week.
They seem to have a wonderful record, he said.
The Battery Park City Authority issued a request for proposals for the hunger museum and consulted with the former director of the United Nations World Food Programme to make a decision, said Jim Cavanaugh, president of the authority.
Mercy Corps is top notch, Cavanaugh said this week. Were very confident in our choice in them.
C.B. 1s Battery Park City Committee plans to discuss Mercy Corps at its next meeting, Nov. 19.