For many of us, 2020 has been a difficult year and sometimes it’s hard to see the bright spots amid the chaos. Enter the Feed Phoenix Initiative, a collaboration between Local First Arizona and the City of Phoenix. It launched in August to provide high-quality meals to vulnerable populations using funds from the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act).
Rather than use a large caterer or food service company to make and distribute the meals, the City of Phoenix contracted with Local First to find local restaurants, farmers and caterers to prepare meals, according to Local First communications manager, Maria Lopez. “They really wanted to make it a community effort to help feed Phoenix and help the local dollars go to local restaurants, farmers and people in our community,” she says.
The 50 restaurants and caterers participating in the initiative are required to incorporate three locally sourced fruits or vegetables provided by Local First at no cost to include in their meals, must use sustainable packaging and have the ability to prepare a minimum of 500 lunches per week for six weeks. They are reimbursed up to $10 per meal.
The Feed Phoenix Initiative launched in August with a goal of providing 30,000 meals and 1,500 bags of food by the end of October. As of this week, Feed Phoenix has completed 17,000 meals, Lopez says. “It is a perfect blend of getting people in our food system back to work.”
When Colleen Riske of Los Sombreros heard about the initiative, she knew right away that she wanted to participate. “What the City of Phoenix and Local First have put together – this multi-pronged way to support different businesses and industries through the same project – has been so inspirational,” she says.
So far, Los Sombreros has provided meals for Justa Center and Wesley Community & Health Center. Next week they will prepare food for Harvest Compassion Center.
Riske is passionate about helping the community. “That’s how we’re all going to make it – supporting each other. It’s really motivating for our team to know they’re making an impact. Just the inspiration alone keeps us going.”