In March of this year, Colorado Succeeds became the fiscal sponsor for Colorado Restaurant Response (CRR), a collaborative effort to combat food insecurity and support restaurants and their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The goals were to re-hire restaurant employees, provide healthy meals to families in need and to stimulate the local economy.
The response model was simple:
- Partner with delivery organizations to provide people in need with nutritious, ready-to-heat meals.
- Help re-hire and keep restaurant workers employed to prepare those meals, while keeping restaurants in business.
- All funding goes towards food, utilities and paying hourly restaurant workers and drivers.
Colorado Succeeds’ involvement was spurred by the high instances of food insecurity experienced by Colorado students and families as a result of the pandemic. As outlined in our Vision 2030 Framework, educational amenities, such as health services, safety and security are all critical drivers to a student being ready and able to learn.
In addition to sponsorship by Colorado Succeeds, the effort was made possible by donations from the community. To ensure 100% of all dollars went to support restaurants and people in need, the partnering organizations – five restaurants, Denver Metro Emergency Food Network, Bondadosa food delivery and half a dozen volunteers – volunteered their time completely free of charge.
When the effort began, the plan was to sustain the program for two to four weeks. However, needs continued to rise and more generous donations followed, allowing the program to continue serving the community for a total of six months, from March to August 2020.
In total, 519 individual donors contributed $2 million, serving 309,200 meals to 34,000 families in need.
Meal recipients included restaurant workers and others who lost their jobs, seniors, immuno-compromised individuals who could safely leave their homes, immigrants who could not receive unemployment and low-income families with children who no longer received school meals due to school closures.
“Thank you to all. I’ve yet to get a [stimulus] check. [M]y husband’s working. [T]hey cut his hours. I am no longer working and let me tell you if it wasn’t for you all, we would’ve [gone] without a meal. [Y]ou saved us on weekends.”
“I want to send gratitude an[d] appreciation and let people know personally who they’re feeding. They’re feeding the child of a bartender.”[Translated from Spanish] “My husband had an emergency operation and he is disabled at home. We don’t have transportation or work and we need food. We are 4 adults with a child.”
Colorado Succeeds was grateful to have been able to collaborate with the partners to provide much-needed support to so many community members. Zack Neumeyer, co-creator of Colorado Restaurant Response, said it right in his reflection: “It makes me proud of our community that we have extraordinary citizens who step in and make an effort like [Colorado Restaurant Response] happen. The chance to do something that helps in response to a crisis is rewarding, doing it with this wonderful team of people has made the difficulties of this pandemic just a bit better.”