Hard times can inspire creativity, kindness, and a sense of community. We’ve been seeing this positivity rippling throughout the food industry in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurant owners and employees are finding creative ways to help others, despite their own financial losses and personal hardships. 

We can all use some feel-good stories right about now, and we want to highlight restaurants and organizations that are helping their communities. Being based in Seattle, we’ve naturally included many local restaurants and groups that are making a difference. We’d love to hear about any of your local restaurants that are doing great things for others!

FoodWithLove 

Photo by ATC Comm Photo from Pexels

FoodWithLove is an initiative between the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Washington State and local restaurants. They’re working together, along with program donors, to feed healthcare workers on the front lines of this crisis. Since its creation on March 31, 2020, they’ve served over 8,800 meals to healthcare workers in the Greater Seattle area.

Local favorites such as The Dolar Shop, Chengdu Memory, IJ Sushi Burrito, and Liuyishou Hot Pot have catered meals for UW Medicine, Overlake Medical Center & Clinics, and Seattle Children’s Hospital to name a few. 

Frontline Foods  

This program began with a casual conversation between friends of a pediatric nurse. They asked her how they could best help medical workers right now, and she responded, “Pizza.” Their mission is to “support our local restaurants that have been impacted by shelter-in-place measures while feeding healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.”

This multi-city charity group takes monetary donations and turns them into meals for healthcare workers on the front lines. They have served over 275,000 meals since April 3, 2020.

Ba Bar 

Ba Bar is the go-to spot for Vietnamese street food in Greater Seattle. Owner Teresa Nguyen began her COVID-19 food initiative with the goal of feeding 100 healthcare workers each day. Her restaurant has produced food at cost and donated countless hours of kitchen staff time in the effort to maintain this goal. After partnering with Seattle Science Foundation and receiving multiple donations, Ba Bar can continue to thank at least 100 local healthcare workers with a warm meal each day.

The Fresh Juice Bar

Heath Anderson, owner of The Fresh Juice Bar in Issaquah, single-handled has delivered more than 1,000 smoothies to healthcare workers all over western Washington. Now who doesn’t want some healthy drink for a long tiring nurse shift? Get involved in his mission.

Heath started his company about seven years ago at the farmers market in Issaquah and he opened his restaurant about four years ago.

Café con Todo 

Photo by Sarah Swinton on Unsplash

Full meals aren’t on the menu for every restaurant, but Café con Todo knows that sometimes it’s the small things in life that can bring a smile to someone’s face. This Seattle-area coffee shop accepts donations that are used to buy a local healthcare worker a much-needed coffee and pastry. 

Dig 

It’s not just restaurants that are suffering from this pandemic. Our food supply chain has also been badly disrupted, leaving farmers with surplus food they can’t sell. The people at Dig Food Group recognized this issue, and as a restaurant group with close ties to farmers, they were in a unique position to help both farmers and the public. 

In an interview with Bon Appétit, Taylor Lanzet of Dig Food Group said, “Since we have relationships with independent farmers and an exceptional supply of ingredients, it seemed like we could help with that need. So we launched the Dig Acres Farm Box on March 28th, which allows us to bring in produce from our suppliers and directly distribute to customers.”

If you live near one of Dig’s many locations, you can order a Dig Acres Farm Box for delivery or pickup. It includes seven to nine vegetables that rotate every Saturday. 

José Andrés with World Kitchen Central 

In mid-March, Chef José Andrés turned six of his shuttered restaurants into community kitchens in conjunction with his organization World Kitchen Central. They produce fresh, packaged meals for members of vulnerable communities. The program quickly expanded, and as of April 6, 2020, they have served more than 3 million meals to communities in need and front-line healthcare workers. 

Please feel free to share any other restaurants or groups you know that are helping front-line healthcare workers, farmers, or community members. We want to support the restaurant owners and staff who have invested their time, money, or energy into helping people directly affected by the pandemic.