Good Neighbors

Genius! Check Out How One Town Is Feeding People And Keeping Food Workers Employed

They've created a "positive feedback loop" to keep people fed and make sure their once-thriving food scene survives the pandemic.

In these trying times, sometimes a good meal can mean the world.

That's why a program in Portland, ME is making sure that people in need are getting fed, while helping local restaurants keep their workers on the job and getting paid.

Since most restaurants closed their doors in early to mid-March, most have been operating with a skeleton crew and have been offering take-out, curbside pick-up and delivery options to stay afloat. Food suppliers like fishermen and farmers are also struggling to sell their goods at a time when businesses like restaurants have drastically reduced their need for fresh food supplies.

Most restaurants have had to lay off employees and switch to take-out and delivery options only. Cooking For Community Maine/Facebook

Portland resident Ellie Low saw an opportunity in the challenge of the city's dining scene to adjust to a new "normal."

Low started "Cooking For Community," a volunteer-led movement that gets tasty, nutritional meals to hungry people while also supporting the local restaurant industry and food suppliers.

According to the C4C Facebook page, the idea is to create a "ripple effect," by "raising money and leveraging resources to support restaurants, food industry workers, local supply chains and people in need."

C4C is dedicated to getting healthy and tasty meals to people in the community who need them most. Cooking For Community Maine/Facebook

While the program started small with one restaurant serving 450 meals, it's now employing dozens of workers at several area restaurants who are now serving over 1,000 people per week.

"We recognize that we have resources here, we have restaurants that have the capacity to cook meals, and we also have people that need food," Low told WGAN.

Ian Malin, the owner of one of the restaurants taking part in the program, is in charge of coming up with meals that fit the initiative's mission as nutritious, locally sourced and delicious.

"We're still trying to find the right sort of balance between versatile meals that can travel a little bit because they are prepared in advance and then delivered, and those that have a broader flavor profile to give people something special that they're not able to get under the circumstances," Malin, who owns the eatery Little Giant in Portland's West End neighborhood, said.

The program is supported by various charities and they accept donations from anyone who wants to help. Local organizations have partnered with C4C and have pledged to donate a portion of their sales to the cause.

C4C has partnered with Maine Unites to get funding by selling this cute sloth t-shirt. Cooking For Community Maine/Facebook

All donations go directly to fueling the program's efforts to feed the unemployed and newly unemployed, the homeless community, immigrants and the elderly, essentially creating a seat for everyone at the table.

While the program is still only a few weeks old, they've received over $75,000 in donations from the community.

"It's giving us all a collective boost in this time of need, and a feeling like there's real good out in the world," Low said.

C4C is feeding people in the community in need, like the elderly, unemployed, immigrants and the homeless. Cooking For Community Maine/Facebook

How can you start something good?

You can donate to Cooking For Community by clicking here.

You can also help by spreading the word and sharing the Cooking For Community Facebook page.

If you're in the Portland, ME area and would like to get involved with C4C, click here for more information.

Let's #StartSomethingGood together!

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