In response to the growing amount of restaurant and hospitality workers unemployed due to COVID-19, FestEvents Foundation, in collaboration with Chef Nick Walker of Virgin Hotels Dallas, Chef Sharon Van Meter of SVM Productions, and Steve DeShazo of El Centro College, is launching Staff Meal (www.staffmeal.org). The program is designed to provide 2,400 free chef-crafted meals per weekend to industry members in-need.
Chef Nick and his rotating culinary team members will plan and prepare 300 to-go food packages that will include four servings of breakfast and four servings of lunch/dinner. The meals will come chilled with reheating instructions and will be available for no-touch pickup at a pre-determined time between 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Saturday beginning April 11th at 3015 at Trinity Groves (3015 Gulden Ln, Dallas, TX 75212). Reservations for the meals are available first come, first served though Eventbrite. Recipients will be vetted, and proof of past employment will be required.
FestEvents Foundation Co-Founders Alison Matis and Cheryl Weis are well-known in the local food community through their company, FestEvents Group, which handles the logistics and production of many of the largest food festivals in Dallas including Taste of Dallas, Park & Palate, Dallas Arboretum Food & Wine Festival, and Dallas Chocolate Festival, among others. The two ladies, including marketing guru Emily Mantooth (formerly of Dallas Chocolate Festival), created Staff Meal because they wanted to be a part of the solution of the hunger crisis facing restaurant industry friends and their families during the COVID-19 crisis.
Explains Matis, “We started Staff Meal because many restaurant industry members are like second family to us and their peers. Thanks to our generous food partners, we are able to prepare a meal for a little over $2 at no cost to the recipient, but our funding can only support a small percentage of the numerous low-income hospitality workers who were living paycheck to paycheck and now can’t afford food, rent, and basic necessities. Additional funding is essential so we can reach out to even more people.”
Donations can be made at www.staffmeal.org for as little as $20 which pays for ten meals. A $2,500 donation covers an entire shift in the kitchen. Staff Meal is also accepting in-kind grocery, beverage, sanitation, and packaging products which can be coordinated by e-mailing email@example.com.
While helping the community is the main objective, Staff Meal is ensuring that the safety and health of everyone involved is the highest priority. All staff are required to pass the ServSafe COVID-19 food safety certification test and follow strict guidelines and procedures that can be found on the organization’s website.
“This is a devastating time for many,” says Weis. “We have been honored to work alongside so many wonderful people in the hospitality industry. Creating Staff Meal is the least we can do to help ours colleagues, our friends, our family.”