Beacon Hill Events and Catering is spearheading a new collaborative effort to feed families served by area nonprofits while supporting restaurant and catering businesses across Spokane.
The Care to Nourish program launched in late December and currently involves seven restaurants and caterers that are also members of the Spokane Hospitality Coalition. That grassroots effort started in mid-2020 to support local restaurants through the pandemic’s restrictions on restaurant dining.
Beacon Hill co-owner and Care to Nourish founder Ellie Aaro says the restaurants are preparing nutritious, family-style meals several nights a week that are delivered to Care to Nourish’s nonprofit partners: Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, Joya Child & Family Development, The ZoNE Project, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Inland Northwest and the Boys and Girls Club of Spokane County. Staff at each nonprofit then distribute meals to families.
“We’re just starting to get feedback from the families, and it’s all been so positive,” she says.
For the program’s initial six-week launch, local establishments providing weekly meals are Beacon Hill, Barnwood Social Kitchen & Tavern, High Tide Lobster Bar, Marandos Bar & Restaurant, London’s Ultimate Catering, Max at Mirabeau and Shawn O’Donnell’s American Grill and Irish Pub.
“CARE to Nourish has given us a pathway to keep our teams employed while giving back to the community by providing nutrient-dense restaurant meals to families in our area,” says London Harris, owner of London’s Ultimate Catering and a board member for the Spokane Hospitality Coalition.
Aaro says moving forward Care to Nourish will collaborate with the Spokane Hospitality Coalition to select a new group among its members to provide meals on six-week cycles, allowing more restaurants to benefit. Restaurants are paid for the meals, which include one protein-based entree and two nutritious sides, at least one that’s vegetable-focused. Each weekly order is for a minimum of 10, four-person family meals.
“The hope is that we can get each of these restaurant partners one delivery per week for six weeks to give them a weekly stream of income,” Aaro says. “It’s keeping people employed, that’s really the goal, and just trying to find ways to tide over a few of the partners until restrictions ease up, and giving some joy to these families in need.”
Initially, Aaro had hoped to secure funding via Spokane County’s federal CARES Act allocations before the 2020 spending deadline, but her application was denied.
“We were just heartbroken, but we had to at least try and do something,” she says. “So that was when we came up with, through December, we did a match for meals ordered through our regular Beacon at Home, and for every meal ordered we would deliver one to a nonprofit.”
Beacon at Home is the venue’s creative response to sustain business through ongoing, pandemic-caused challenges. Launched last summer, the weekly pre-order service offers a multi-course, family-style meal from Beacon’s recipe repertoire. Beacon at Home meals continue to be offered twice a week, delivered to customers' doors or for pickup at the venue in Northeast Spokane.
The meal match endeavor in December got some attention, however, and Aaro says she was able to successfully secure a total of $37,500 from STCU and Washington Trust Bank. The Northeast Community Center is serving as Care to Nourish’s fiscal partner to manage that initial fund and any future donations, which Aaro says are vital for the program to continue.
“We’re hoping we can attract attention to the project and there might be other community-minded businesses and foundations that have been looking for ways not only to help the hospitality industry, but get meals to families,” she says.
The catalyst funding from STCU and Washington Trust enables Care to Nourish to provide a total of 2,100 meals to local families through Feb. 6.
Donations in support of Care to Nourish can be made directly to the Northeast Community Center. For more information about the program, visit beaconhillevents.com/care.