Bartender Amanda Villosio found herself in the company of thousands of bar and restaurant employees who were laid off last week, after the government-mandated shutdown to slow the spread of coronavirus began in Colorado on March 17. But Villosio is also the secretary of the Colorado Bartenders Guild, which is working to supply free food for service-industry people and their families.
The guild just launched Colorado Family Meal, which will provide up to three meals twice weekly for those who sign up for the program. Last Saturday alone, she says, the program handed out 200 meal kits (that's 600 meals total) at the Wynkoop Brewing Company (1634 18th Street), where the food is being prepared and distributed with minimal interaction between the organizers and those picking up meals.
"My main concern is safety — keeping my team safe," Villosio says. "Social distancing is something we are absolutely stressing."
Colorado Family Meal is serving far more than just bartenders. "You don't have to be a guild member to pick up food," Villosio notes. "Our industry dedicates itself to serving others; it’s time to turn the tables."
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Chefs Adam Vero and Jeff Hickman of Hearth & Dram are preparing the meals, which are being funded entirely by the Denver chapter of the Colorado Bartenders Guild. But the guild needs help procuring food, so it's recruiting sponsors and has set up a sponsorship page at cobg.square.site, where individuals and organizations can add anywhere from $10 (which will pay for three meals) to $250 to the pot. Some of the big national liquor brands have become sponsors of the food program, Villosio says, and Colorado food distributors have also provided the raw ingredients that Vero and Hickman are turning into nutritious meals.
Service- and hospitality-industry members hungry for help can sign up for meals using a form on the Colorado Bartenders Guild Instagram account (@cobartenderguild). Meals will be ready for pick-up every Wednesday and Saturday for the next eight weeks.
Other industry folks are getting in the act, too. Prim Communications, a public-relations firm that represents many Front Range restaurants, has started Feeding Colorado Heroes, which will deliver meals to health-care workers battling the spread of coronavirus. Feeding Colorado Heroes is taking donations that will be used to pay restaurants to prep meals for delivery to medical teams at ER and ICU locations, so hard-hit restaurants will benefit from the business while helping send food to hardworking medical professionals. A $100 donation will pay for enough food to serve twelve people, according to the organization; funds can be donated on the Feeding Colorado Heroes GoFundMe page. Restaurants wishing to sign up, and hospital administrators interested in receiving meals, can sign up at firstname.lastname@example.org. An online sign-up form is in the works, so keep an eye on the organization's Facebook page for updates.
Send information about groups and additional efforts offering help to hospitality workers and others to email@example.com. Click here for some bright moments during tough times, as well as news about other organizations setting up services, including Friends & Family Meal and Operation Family Meal.