It seems as though we’re finally seeing a light at the end of the dark tunnel known as COVID-19. Last week, Bucks County reported an average of 20 new cases per day – the lowest total in over two months.
Still, it’s not completely over yet. Many in the community continue to struggle, whether it’s a high-risk senior citizen who cannot safely shop at the grocery store or a homeless person who relies on food pantries, which are struggling themselves to keep shelves stocked.
In order to provide sustenance to these individuals, the Grundy Foundation, overseer of the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library and Museum, recently launched “COVID-19: Feeding Bristol Borough.” The $10,000 initiative is engaging local restaurant owners, who will prepare meals this summer for service organizations that help residents in need.
“Food and security is such a big issue, especially given the fact that coronavirus has put a lot of people out of work,” said Gene Williams, executive director of the Grundy Foundation. “The coronavirus has really impacted a lot of communities, and Bristol has been impacted by possibly an even greater extent because of some of the vulnerable segments within our population.”
The foundation board first approved $13,000 in March, which went directly to nonprofits supporting the homeless, elderly and families. This time around, with another $10,000 approved, Williams not only wants to help those organizations, but also give back to area restaurants, which he said stood strong throughout the pandemic.
“Really, they were the first ones that reached out and said, ‘Hey, we’re still here. Support us,’ ” he said. “When this thing is said and done, Bristol has become sort of a dining destination, especially with the theater. We want to make sure the restaurants are in good shape and being supported.”
To date, the foundation has established two partnerships for the challenge – Annabella’s Italian Restaurant and Cesare’s Ristorante. Annabella’s owner Bobby Angelaccio will deliver specialty meals to the nearby St. James the Greater Episcopal Church.
“St. James hosts a homeless feeding program once a month. So, for the month of June and the month of July, Bobby will be preparing food for the St. James homeless population,” said Williams.
Meanwhile, Cesare’s owner Donnie Petolillo will work directly with the Bristol Borough Senior Center, which offers a meals on wheels program and drive-by food pickups.
Williams stressed that the $10,000 from the foundation is paying for the food the restaurants will distribute – it’s not coming out of the owners’ pockets.
“This is not a freebie. It’s money to allow them to make a profit and make a good product, which can be shared,” he said. “It’s not every day that you get a delicacy from Annabella’s or Cesare’s. If they’re getting food, it’s maybe nonperishables, canned goods, things like that. But these are gourmet-style meals that will be prepared. It’s something to look forward to. It’s a win-win.”
Participating restaurants are paired with a service organization based on proximity. For example, Annabella’s is right around the corner from St. James. While he gave owners a choice to decide who would receive their food, they had no preference. At the end of the day, they just wanted to help.
“A lot of them said, ‘How can we help and who can we help?’ They made it easy on me,” Williams reflected. “This is something that we’ve never done before, no one’s ever done before. I think they’re just very excited with the aspect of doing something on this scale for a vulnerable segment of the population that can really use a shot in the arm during this coronavirus.”
The Grundy Foundation is urging community members to join in the initiative by helping it match the $10,000.
“We’d like to do as many as we possibly can. We’d like to engage maybe four or five more restaurants, and that would take us through the month of August,” Williams said. “Since we are a nonprofit, 100 percent of every dollar is going to this program. There are no administrative costs. It’s going dollar for dollar into the restaurants and the feeding program. Hopefully, people will appreciate that.”
Tax-deductible contributions can be mailed to the Grundy Foundation, 680 Radcliffe St., Bristol, PA 19007, or made at grundyfoundation.com using the PayPal Donate button. Be sure to mark your donation with “COVID-19: Feeding Bristol Borough.” More information is also available on the website.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com