Eat, Drink, Repeat is the theme of this year's Inlander Restaurant Week. Second Harvest hopes you will "eat, drink, repeat — and DONATE" during the 10-day event in February. While you enjoy a meal for $22 or $33 at participating local restaurants, you can help a family who can't afford to put food on their table, let alone dine out. Make sure Everyone Eats by participating in this year's Restaurant Week. You can't put a price on making a difference to a family like Austin's.
Austin and his wife have three young children. He had a great job until an unexpected layoff put him in a food bank line. His wife works, but, with just one income, paying rent was a challenge. Food became a luxury.
"There have been a couple of times where we had our kids stay home from school because we didn't have school appropriate food to pack them," Austin says. "I think the stigma was that everybody who goes to the food bank is just looking for a handout."
"The people we see at our partner food banks and at our Mobile Market distributions are often people in situations like Austin's," says Julie Humphreys, community relations manager for Second Harvest. "A job loss, a medical emergency or a divorce may be all it takes for them to seek food assistance. Others are elderly on fixed incomes or students trying to juggle tuition, books and rent."
Second Harvest depends on community donations to stock the shelves of more than 250 food banks, meal sites and other programs throughout Eastern Washington and North Idaho. You can make an online donation now at 2-harvest.org/everyoneeats or while you are out enjoying great food during Restaurant Week to help put food on the tables of families facing hunger.
Providing food at no cost to someone is the first step in moving them out of hunger. Teaching them scratch cooking and offering nutrition education is the next. In addition to providing food to local food banks and meal sites, your Inlander Restaurant Week donation also helps fund free community cooking classes for people in need at Second Harvest. In the classes, people develop skills in the kitchen, build healthy habits and learn how to make better food choices that improve their nutrition. Perhaps just as important as the skills they learn is the sense of community they experience coming together to enjoy the meal they've prepared.
"It's great to sit down and talk to others and not be afraid to say something," says Doreen, who has attended a handful of classes. "There's no judgment in the classes. It's friendly and comfortable."
On this particular day, class attendees made lentil sloppy Joes. Doreen likes learning about different spices and foods, like lentils, that she never thought of using before. Also in class that day was Shirley. It was her first time. She confessed she's a terrible cook and thought it was about time she learned. She's 92. Shirley read about Second Harvest's community cooking classes in the newspaper and decided to attend.
"It helped that it's a free class. There's no way I could afford $30 or $40 dollars for a cooking class. I have to buy food with that," she says.
Community class participants also take food home. For Shirley, that was especially valuable as she depends on public transportation to get around. "We got green, leafy vegetables. I'm not always able to get to the store," she says, adding, "I learned a lot. I like the companionship. I live by myself. Most of my siblings are gone. Friends my age are gone." Shirley says she would be back for another class.
You can help make sure the Shirleys and the Doreens in our community can indeed come back for a free class and that thousands of others receive nutritious food at no cost. It's as simple as donating to Second Harvest during Inlander Restaurant Week to ensure that Everyone Eats. While you are out to eat, make an online donation on your phone. And while your phone is out, post pictures and comments about your dining experience and share them on social media with the hashtag #IRWRaveReviews. For every post, food distributor Sysco will donate five meals of food to Second Harvest. Do so at every restaurant where you dine. Eat, drink, repeat, DONATE.
HERE TO HELP
Eating out is a privilege. Once again, the Inlander is partnering with Second Harvest to make sure everyone can eat this Restaurant Week and beyond.
Helping is easy. Post a picture of your Inlander Restaurant Week food on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (you know you were going to anyway) and include the tag #IRWRaveReviews. Make sure the post is public, and Sysco will donate five meals to Second Harvest for each post.
Or when you're browsing the menus, make a direct donation to Second Harvest. Look for the donate button on InlanderRestaurantWeek.com and feel good knowing that for every dollar you donate, Second Harvest can deliver five meals to families in need.