As we all know, one of the most “essential” parts of life is food, and it’s not always easy to get when you’re out of a job, or working overtime at a hospital, or unable to visit a grocery store.
That’s where local restaurants and breweries are stepping in, with the help of generous individuals and other local businesses. Across West Michigan, our favorite eateries are providing free food to people in need, which helps the recipients and food service employees alike.
Garage Bar & Grill is just one such benefactor, providing 100 free meals every single day for 45 days. Supported by Mercantile Bank, Pioneer Construction, Car City, Custer Office, Century Flooring, EatGR and InsureIt, the restaurant and bar had provided these meals for 30 days when a new sponser — Anderson Neitzel Investment Group of Wells Fargo Advisers — stepped up to extend the program.
“It’s more than just providing food, it’s about providing hope and comfort,” Garage proprietor Kevin Farhat said in a statement. “We have heard so many wonderful stories of how Garage Bar Cares has helps families and also spurred other giveaways and support efforts, so we just want to keep it going a little longer.”
Starting at 10 a.m. each day, the meals go to the first 100 people to call and ask for them. The program has targeted those laid off during the pandemic, as well as area first responders and service industry workers.
“It’s the community supporting those in need, which is keeping our staff employed,” Farhat added. “The kindness of our community is really on display here.”
Meanwhile, Bliss & Vinegar has been donating food to the workers on the front lines in hospitals. The salad, wrap and bowl eatery started a “Donate a Healthy Meal to a Health Care Worker” campaign, asking customers to help out where they can while Bliss & Vinegar matched a portion of donations. This has led to donations across departments at Spectrum Health, Mercy Health, Mary Free Bed and Butterworth ER. Contact Bliss & Vinegar to see how you can help.
Similarly, someone gave a generous donation to Rockford Brewing Company, which provided for a catered meal to 90 employees at Spectrum Health's Regional Laboratory. The anonymous gift is another example of how giving through restaurants is a great way to help out. Filtering your gift through a restaurant helps keep a small local business active and alive while also helping those who receive the food at the end.
Also to the north of Grand Rapids, Amore Trattoria Italiana has been helping in multiple ways. So much so, in fact, that the restaurant was featured on Mike Rowe’s Returning the Favor, receiving a surprise gift of $10,000 to continue the work! Amore organized 50 free Easter meals for families in need, and has worked with Zach’s Sprinkles and Sweets to provide tens of dozens of cookies to frontline workers. If you want to help, all you have to do is buy some cookies!
A collaboration between Arnie’s Bakery and Restaurant and Beer City Bread has resulted in Share the Loaf, an effort to get food to those in need. Across two locations (2650 E. Beltline SE, Grand Rapids and 722 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids), the eateries are offering meals at low prices, as well as free meals when they can. They’ve given away pizza, lasagna and other dishes to keep families full. Head to their Facebook for more information.
There are many more ways local businesses are helping, such as distilleries making hand sanitizer and clothing stores making face masks for healthcare workers.
As this pandemic unfolds, we continue to see the community band together in amazing ways, with customers supporting local businesses and those businesses paying to forward. And the best part is, you can help just by ordering some cookies or donating a few dollars to your local restaurant!