Group prepares thousands of meals for struggling restaurant workers

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The cod is sizzling, the sauce is simmering.

"We have fresh garlic, chopped onions, capers," indicated Chef Aziza from Everybody Eats Philly. "We want to give you something that's going to nourish your body."

A massive effort to cook and freeze 10,000 meals was underway Wednesday at Caring For Friends in Northeast Philadelphia.

The non-profit, which has a food bank, community kitchen, and meals programs, has seen demand skyrocket during the pandemic.

"It's impacted the Philadelphia region in the worst way that we've seen in 45 years here," CFF Chairman and CEO Vincent Schiavone said. "We've gone from in 2019 giving out 500,000 lbs of food, to 2020 giving out 20 million lbs of food."

Now, Caring For Friends is working with chefs in the Philadelphia area to cook 10,000 meals for struggling restaurant workers, with food donated by US Foods.

Since the pandemic started, US Foods has already donated more than $35 million worth of food relief to organizations like Caring For Friends, starting ServeBetter in the spring when they saw the impact on restaurant workers.

"They were the hardest hit, of just about any employment sector, and being that we play a responsible role in the food system in Philadelphia as a food distributor, we thought we needed to do something about that," explained Bob Reusche of US Foods.

They have held three prior ServeBetter events: two in Philadelphia and one in Allentown. In each of those events, 600 parcels of food were distributed.

But, this distribution is their biggest yet, with a special focus on black-owned businesses and Hispanic communities.

"We decided it would be more impactful if we have culturally appropriate meals designed by our partners with Caring for Friends," Reusche said.

"He reached out to Everybody Eats so that we can help them target some of the Black communities and Hispanic communities," Aziza said.

There will be 10 frozen servings in each of the 1,000 boxes that will be given out on January 30 at nine sites in the city.

Caring For Friends is also providing a box of groceries for every box of meals.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.