Sonoma Family Meal, a disaster-focused non-profit providing chef-made meals to those in need, announces the creation of the Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund–a new initiative to help restaurants remain open for disaster-relief cooking by providing healthy, chef-made meals to those in desperate need of food. John Jordan, the owner of Jordan Winery, and the John Jordan Foundation have made a $150,000 investment in the fund, and the non-profits are teaming up to begin a matching drive to raise an additional $150,000.
“With many businesses shuttered, demand for prepared meals is at an all-time high due to the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Heather Irwin, founder of Sonoma Family Meal. “If we reach our goal of $300,000 to fully fund this program, we will be able to pay at least 20 restaurants and caterers to produce up to 100,000 meals for thousands of seniors and families facing food scarcity over the next four months.” SFM hopes to put at least 100, restaurant workers, back on the payroll, keep restaurants operational, support hard costs and create income to reopen in the future.
Gerard’s Paella in Santa Rosa, the Girl & the Fig in Sonoma, Chacho’s Catering in Windsor and Preferred Sonoma Catering in Petaluma are the first four restaurants operating as relief kitchens for the new disaster relief fund.
“These meals mean that our staff will have hours and normalcy in their lives right now,” said Petaluma caterer Amber Balshaw of Preferred Sonoma Catering. Her company is producing more than 600 meals per week for Sonoma Family Meal’s clients. The initiative also helps support small family farms and local food producers by purchasing their products for use in restaurants.
The $150,000 investment from Jordan will allow SFM to keep the doors open at least 12 struggling restaurants and caterers throughout the county currently providing meals, purchase 42,000 to-go containers (compostable or reusable) and provide 65,000 meals. Irwin estimates that SFM needs $300,000 to add at least 20 restaurants and food purveyors, expand our relief network and continue to provide services until mid-June, the projected time frame of increased need during this crisis.
“The owners of successful businesses have a responsibility to help those less fortunate throughout the years,” said John Jordan, who started his foundation in 2012. “But during times of crisis, we have to lean in and find ways to do even more.”
The Jordan $150,000 donation is not contingent upon reaching the match drive goal and has already been received by Sonoma Family Meal.
According to Irwin, the idea for the Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund was born from the work with chef Kyle Connaughton of SingleThread Farms in Healdsburg, the Michelin-starred restaurant that piloted the Sonoma Family Meal program in mid-March and has been cooking 200 meals a day since then, each meant to feed four people. SingleThread began raising money from investors, wineries, and restaurant guests to fund their production of donation meals for Sonoma Family Meal. SingleThread and two other Healdsburg restaurants—Mateo’s Cocina Latina and PizZando—are continuing to cook meals for Sonoma Family Meal and are raising money through their own network of donors to fund their operations. Guests who order takeout from SingleThread through Tock also have the option to donate meals to their Sonoma Family Meal program.
“It’s absolutely incredible how John and the John Jordan Foundation have stepped up to support Sonoma Family Meal and the community here,” Connaughton said. “Not only does it get more meals out to those in need locally, it supports our Sonoma County chefs and restaurants to produce these meals and use local products from our farms and artisans.”
About Sonoma Family Meal
Founded in 2017, Sonoma Family Meal is a disaster-focused, 501c3 non-profit that provides safe, chef-made meals to those who need it most. Working with established non-profits, meals will go to seniors in peril, families, women’s emergency shelters, and underserved communities struggling through tragic and unprecedented emergencies. Learn more at sonomafamilymeal.org.