April 1, 2020
DENVER – Today, a new effort in Colorado provided 2,000 food-insecure Coloradans with healthy, ready-to-eat meals. Colorado Restaurant Response, a new cross-functional coalition in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, aims to 1) stand up industrial kitchens in existing restaurant spaces, 2) re-hire and keep restaurant workers to prepare ready-to-eat nutritious meals in bulk, and 3) distribute those same meals to food insecure families and unemployed service workers across the Denver metro area in partnership with Bondadosa and leading hunger relief groups including Denver Metro Emergency Food Network.
“It is no secret that the restaurant community is one of those being hit the hardest during this current crisis. According to a recent nationwide survey from the National Restaurant Association, more than 70% of restaurants have had to lay off employees. In Colorado alone, more than 170,000 restaurant workers are unemployed.” said Kent Thiry, Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors at DaVita Inc. and funder of Colorado Restaurant Response. “On the other side of the equation, food insecurity is increasing at an alarming rate. We saw an opportunity to bring together the existing infrastructure and leadership of Colorado’s restaurants, help put people back to work, and ultimately provide support for those who are facing increased food insecurity during this chaotic time.
“At Bohemian Foundation, our mission is to empower citizens to build stronger communities,” said Joe Zimlich, Bohemian Foundation Board Member. “We are glad to be a funding partner of Colorado Restaurant Response. This new effort combats food insecurity while also increasing the resiliency of our restaurants across the state. It’s an effort that we believe can be adopted by other communities to aid our most vulnerable citizens and to support businesses as well.”
Colorado Restaurant Response will rely on financial donations to standup these industrial kitchens at various restaurants with a skeleton staff to prepare the meals to provide to those in need. Currently, four restaurants have partnered to produce 2,000 meals per day with a goal of scaling to ten restaurants that will produce more than 5,000 meals per day and will support the rehiring of at least 100 workers.
“This is a way for us to both support our restaurant family in this time of need while also giving back and supporting our broader communities who are severely impacted by this crisis,” said Alex Seidel, James Beard-Award-Winning Chef and owner of Mercantile and Fruition. “I am excited to participate in this new initiative and am hopeful we can scale the project and continue to do what we in the restaurant community do best: feed hungry people.”
“At Bondadosa, our goal is to directly connect food producers with those who need food the most. We are on the front lines, seeing daily increased need due to COVID-19,” said Ricardo Rocha, Founder and CEO of Bondadosa and founding member of Denver Metro Emergency Food Network. “In the Denver Metro Area, we anticipate there will be hundreds of thousands of individuals and families who will be in need of access to food during this time of crisis. Additionally thousands of elderly individuals also have reduced access to food as they avoid high-density areas due to the risk of COVID-19. Our network’s goal is to deliver 50,000 meals per month to home-bound families and the elderly in need. The efforts of Colorado Restaurant Response have increased our capacity and will allow us to provide meals to serve an immediate need for populations at risk.”
Current partners of the Colorado Restaurant Response coalition include:
- Bohemian Foundation
- Colorado Succeeds
- Denver Metro Emergency Food Network
- EIS Solutions
- Maven Law Group
- Sage Hospitality Group
- Thiry O-Leary Foundation
- Max McKissock and Blake Edmunds, Bar Dough, Senor Bear, Culinary Creative
- James Beard Award-Winner Jen Jasinski, Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Ultreai, Crafted Concepts
- Adam Schlegel, Co-Founder, Snooze Eatery and Founder, Chook Chicken
- James Beard Award-Winner, Alex Seidel and Matt Vawter, Mercantile and Fruition
- Sage Restaurants Concepts’ Kachina Cantina
Families in need can request meals at the Denver Metro Emergency Food Network
Media Contact: Colin Walsh, 720-595-7240, firstname.lastname@example.org