A local nonprofit is helping more than two dozen New York City restaurants stay open amid mass coronavirus-related closures. Last month, Rethink Food NYC launched a “Restaurant Response” program that partners with restaurants in need of financial support and provides free or subsidized food to New Yorkers in need. As part of the program, the nonprofit will award 30 New York City restaurants a grant of up to $40,000 to help make 24,000 meals in total per day.
To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all restaurants and bars to close last month, with the exception of delivery and take-out services. With little business, many restaurants and bars across the city were forced to shutter, laying off hundreds of thousands of workers in the process.
Rethink’s Restaurant Response program converts restaurants into community kitchens, which supports both restaurant staff and the New Yorkers who are struggling financially. The food follows the particular restaurant’s style and is designed for pick-up and/or delivery. The program aims to keep the restaurant open for eight to ten weeks. Meals cost a suggested donation of $5, with proceeds going to Rethink. Applications are still being accepted to be considered for the program.
The East Village’s Little Tong Noodle Shop reopened as the first recipient of the grant. According to Eater NY, the restaurant is serving kung pao chicken breasts, marinated cucumber, and jasmine rice as well as dan dan ground pork ragu, roasted vegetable couscous, and a creamy lemon herb sauce.
“We’re going to keep making delicious, beautiful, nourishing food and trying to feed as many people as humanly possible,” Matt Jozwiak, Rethink’s founder, wrote in a blog post. “And we’re going to do that with your love, support and kindness.”
And on Thursday, Eater reported that Chef Daniel Humm of Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park will turn the high-end restaurant into a commissary kitchen for Rethink after securing funding from American Express. The restaurant’s staff will work with the nonprofit to provide meals for those in need during the outbreak, including those who receive Citymeals on Wheels and hospital workers.
According to the New York Times, the first meals, costing between $5 and $6, were delivered on Thursday. Twelve Eleven Madison Park chefs will be preparing the meals, expected to start at about 1,000 per day and going up to 3,000 meals per day.
Eleven Madison Park is also auctioning off some items to support its employees, including a $7,000 wine tasting for ten, a $10,000 reservation at Rao’s, and more.
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