ITHACA, N.Y. — After much contemplation and multiple taste tests, Mayor Svante Myrick selected a chicken and waffle combo as the winner of this year’s third annual Myrick Hunger Hero Competition to benefit local food security programs.

“For the flavor, and the texture, and the ease of eating I think this is the one,” Myrick said. “This is the hardest choice I make every year. This is a foodie town, and I take my job very seriously,” he added jokingly.

During the month of May, sponsors Collegetown Bagels and Ithaca Bakery received 46 sandwich submissions for the Myrick Hunger Hero. This year’s submissions were so fantastic, according to CTB and Ithaca Bakery owner Gregor Brous, four finalists were chosen for a blind taste test by Mayor Myrick, instead of the usual three.

CTB chose the final entries to be judged based on the goal of providing multiple dietary options, as well as what is feasible to make, and within a reasonable price point.

“We had a lot of submissions, and a lot of good ones. It was pretty competitive this year. In the finals there is one vegan sandwich, and three meat,” Brous said. The quality of choice this year was evident in the length of time it took for Mayor Myrick to deliberate.

“All of these sandwiches could have won any of the other years,” Myrick said. In the end “The Nessa,” a waffle sandwich with crispy chicken, hot sauce, maple syrup, and cheddar cheese, took the first place prize.

Contestant Vanessa O’Connor’s “The Nessa” will be added to the CTB and Ithaca Bakery menus within the week, and remain available for one month. A portion of proceeds from “The Nessa” will be donated to the United Way of Tompkins County’s Hunger & Food Security Fund, and invested locally to support eligible food pantries and community organizations.

Unlike past years, the second and third place winners will also join the menu: a chickpea salad on pumpernickel submitted by the Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County, and a polish inspired kielbasa and potato latke sandwich on Rye, submitted by Ithaca’s Ian Mahoney and Jaclyn Petruzzelli.

United Way of Tompkins County President James Brown values the annual event as a way to bring attention to questions of hunger and food security, while providing the community an opportunity to engage and have fun.

“We live in a prosperous community, especially compared to many other regions in Upstate New York, but we still face issues of hunger and food security,” said Brown.

Although Myrick’s Hunger Hero typically only remains on the menu for one month, Brous said that this year, due to the quality of submissions, any of the sandwiches could stay on the menu permanently with a few tweaks.

“United Way does such good work with the proceeds. They feed hungry children, and elders…they make sure people in our community don’t go hungry. This wouldn’t be possible without Gregor Brous, Vikki Taylor-Brous, and CTB,” said Myrick.

“The United Way is such a valuable and vibrant part of our community. We are honored to have this event and support them,” Brous said.