Tons of food tossed daily at migrant hotel in Midtown, workers say

Kristin Thorne Image
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Tons of food tossed daily at migrant hotel in Midtown: hotel workers
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Workers at The Row, a hotel for migrants, say they throw out large garbage bags of free, prepared food every day. Kristin Thorne has the story.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Workers at a hotel for migrants in Midtown Manhattan tell Eyewitness News every day they throw out large garbage bags of free, prepared food.

Felipe Rodriguez, a housekeeper at The Row hotel, showed Eyewitness News videos he has taken of black, contractor-sized garbage bags being tossed that are filled with sandwiches, bagels and prepared meals in to-go containers.

New York City is using the 28-story, 1,300-room hotel located on 8th Avenue at 46th Street exclusively to house migrants -- some of whom are seeking asylum.

"We have complained vigorously about the waste of food," Rodriguez told Eyewitness News investigative reporter Kristin Thorne. "We've got homeless in New York City."

Rodriguez said the other reason workers have complained about the bags of wasted food is because the bags are heavy and numerous and are putting a strain on the housekeeping staff.

"I weighed one of the bags of sandwiches that I took to throw out," Rodriguez said. "It was 60 pounds."

Another housekeeping attendant, who did not want to be identified because she fears she will be fired, said every day she throws out food.

"Boxes of apples and bananas," she said. "They throw out the sandwiches as well."

Eyewitness News was able to speak with a migrant who lives at the hotel and asked about the food provided by the city and if she eats it.

She said she doesn't all the time because she wants to cook her own food.

None of the rooms at The Row hotel has a kitchen.

Workers tell Eyewitness News every day they seize hot plates, rice cookers, pots and pans from the rooms. The city said electronic cooking devices are prohibited in any migrant shelter because they are a fire hazard.

Rodriguez said the city provides the migrants three meals a day.

The city said it provides fruits and snacks on every floor of the hotel.

A spokesperson for the city said in a statement to Eyewitness News, "All clients are offered a food selection that reflects the diets of residents and is prepared same-day to ensure freshness. Last month, residents were even asked to participate in guest surveys to help us refine and expand menu options. Of course we cannot and would not ever force clients to finish food they had taken, but we do donate leftover food when possible."

The city said it does throw out some food.

Eyewitness News asked the city how much it spends every day feeding the migrants at The Row. We also asked where the city is preparing the food every day. They did not respond to the questions.

Eyewitness News reached out to several immigrant groups about the food waste. None got back to us.

ALSO READ | Workers at migrant hotel in Midtown tell Eyewitness News about safety, health concerns

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