Restaurants donate despite pandemic challenges
By Beth Burrell
posted on behalf of the Food Bank sourcing team
For many years, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has fostered partnerships with restaurants in our 11-county service area. Over the years, this partnership has evolved into our Community Table program, which allows restaurants to donate planned meals and excess food from their production to agencies within the Food Bank’s network that serve meals on-site. The Community Table program has been a huge help to our onsite partner agencies, allowing them to provide restaurant-quality meals to the people they serve while saving resources they would have otherwise spent on food for other program needs. Additionally, the Community Table program has given participating restaurants an opportunity to give back directly to their own community, as any restaurant participating is matched with a Food Bank agency nearby the restaurant itself.
Through the first few months of the pandemic, we came to understand the wide-ranging impacts of Covid-19 on the families we serve and throughout our network. With cases rising, stay-at-home orders in place and restaurants closing their indoor service, we expected participation in the Community Table program to plummet. COVID did pose a massive roadblock for many restaurants, but what we found, to our surprise, was that a core of dedicated and resilient restaurants participating in the Community Table program have continued, despite the hardships they are no doubt facing as restaurants operating during a global pandemic, to donate consistently through our Community Table program.
“As a local, family owned business, it has always been extremely important to my partner Domenic Ricci and I to be active in the community in a variety of ways. Collaborating with the Food Bank through its Community Table program has been a great way to ensure that any leftover food finds its way to the table of our neighbors in need of help.” – Joe Wadlow, Monte Cello’s.
The need for food assistance within our network and around the country has greatly increased as families struggle to meet their needs amidst the economic and emotional hardships caused by the virus. Agencies providing assistance to these families are finding their resources stretched thin as they work to meet this increased need. The meals these restaurants are donating have drawn us that much closer to meeting that increased need, have provided valuable resources to our agencies and have provided the comfort of a hot meal to the families we serve. From the bottom of our hearts, we’d like to thank those restaurants who have continued to assist our partner agencies in feeding those in need in what is, for all of us, an incredibly difficult time. While the full list of Community Table partners is long, here are just a few of the agencies that have continued to provide support to families in need despite the challenges they are facing amidst the pandemic.
- Honey Baked Hams on McKnight Road has been donating since 2006.
- New York Super Subs has been donating weekly since 2018.
- Monte Cellos on Babcock Blvd has been donating since 2017 and is now donating 10 to 20 meals per week.
- Salem’s has been donating since 2012.
- Bidwell Training Center has been donating since 2012.
- UPMC Mercy has been donating since 2012.