Harlem EatUp! celebrating food, culture and art kicks off Monday

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The fifth annual Harlem EatUp! festival kicks off Monday, offering a wide range of things to do -- including some of the favorite sights and flavors from the historic community.

The festival draws thousands of folks to the neighborhood, eager to sample an array of the area's very best cuisine.

But the annual week-long festival does more than just fill stomachs -- it also gives back.

Since 2015, one of EatUp's major benefactors has been Citymeals on Wheels, which serves up food to nearly 20,000 elderly and sick New Yorkers each year, roughly 2 million meals.

"We've benefited immensely, over $100,000 in the time frame of the event," Citymeals on Wheels executive director Beth Shapiro said. "And that just continues to grow each year, and all that money is poured back into feeding the older people in Harlem."

Two of New York's best known chefs, Marcus Samuelsson and Daniel Boulud, are part of the monthly Chefs Deliver initiative, a rotating group of chefs who help prepare and deliver food as part of Citymeals on Wheels.

"First and foremost, you have to support your community," Boulud said. "As a chef, not only everyone tried to support is local community, but it's the city. And Citymeals on Wheels is a charity focused on supporting the elderly community. And to me, what I always admire at Citymeals is that we should not forget the ones who were here before us."

It's food for the stomach...and for the soul.

"This is the right thing, and this is what we should be doing," Samuelsson said. "And it's a luxury to be able to do it."

The festival includes a full slate of events, with tickets ranging from free and pay-as-you-go to ticketed "Dine In" dinners.

Tickets and complete information can be found on HarlemEatUp.com.

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