Now Cooking: Food For Behind The Lines

Among the many casualties of COVID-19, some of the first — and 3 months later, still hardest hit — were food service workers.

Tens of thousands of Connecticut chefs, cooks, servers, dishwashers, bartenders and others in the area were instantly out of work. Though unemployment, stimulus checks and food stamps have helped, thousands are not receiving any benefits.

Cruelly, men and women who spent their lives putting food on our table are now food insecure themselves.

A grassroots initiative — Food for the Front Lines — did a spectacular job supporting both the state restaurant industry, and healthcare workers on the front lines.

In just 8 weeks, the group — started by Westporter Nicole Straight — raised $130,000. They paid 40 Connecticut restaurants to deliver over 10,000 meals to hospitals and first responder units throughout Fairfield County.

State Senator Will Haskell (3rd from left) helped prepare food boxes, after a recent drive at Aitoro Appliance.

As the crisis evolved, the group did too. Food For the Front Lines is now “Food for Behind the Lines.” They’re working with local chefs to identify and support people in the industry in need. They conduct food drives, then distribute boxes of donated and purchased food to their families.

Chefs also help by purchasing food at reduced rates from their distributors.

Food For Behind the Lines has already hosted 3 food drives, and distributed 500 food pantry boxes to unemployed food workers.

Driving forces behind the group include 4 Westporters: CTBites founder and editor Stephanie Webster; Terrain Café and Amis Trattoria executive chef Jes Bengtson, and Food Rescue US volunteers Ria Rueda and Allison Sherman.

Besides food collections, Food For Behind the Lines seeks donations. $25 feeds a family of 4 for a week.

Now there’s a great way to give — and get something food-related in return.

Popular food website CTBites — founded and edited by Westporter Stephanie Webster — has published a “Connecticut Chefs Recipes for Restaurant Relief” online cookbook. It features 100 recipes from popular chefs throughout the Nutmeg State.

The e-cookbook costs $25. 100% of the proceeds benefit Food For Behind the Lines. (Click here to order.)

How’s that for a great tip?!

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