Hope and Main Is Going Over and Above to Nourish Our Neighbors

The nonprofit food business incubator has distributed more than 2,400 meals to those in need made by local people and businesses using local ingredients and products.
Thumbnail Hope And Main Nourish Our Neighbors Rupert Whiteley Photography (101)

Photo by Rupert Whiteley.

Hope and Main, the nonprofit food business incubator, recently launched the Nourish Our Neighbors program. Hope and Main was able to start Nourish Our Neighbors with donations raised from more than 250 generous donors and a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation’s Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund. Nourish Our Neighbors makes sure that local families, individuals and seniors have access to prepared meals during this time. The program is a part of the nonprofit’s urgent response to support both the community and the local food economy during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Hope and Main has been distributing free breakfast and lunch, which has been generously supplied by the Bristol/Warren School District, since mid-March. Nourish Our Neighbors works closely with this program delivering more than 220 frozen, reheatable meals to the area’s three senior centers. All meals are provided at no cost to the recipients.

Community-based food businesses, such as, Gotham Greens, Blount Fine Foods and Granny Squibb’s Iced Tea have contributed food and supplies to help during this unprecedented time. Hope and Main has provided an outlet to help these companies stay in business while being able to help their community during this time of great stress. Roger Williams University has also partnered with Hope and Main by providing a part-time staff member from Dining Services, Don Fitting, to help exclusively with the Nourish Our Neighbors program.

President and founder of Hope and Main, Lisa Raiola, MPH, says, “During these unprecedented times, we are seeing the breakdown of the local food supply chain. It makes no sense that the state’s farmers and fishermen have no market for what is locally cultivated and landed here, at the very moment when Rhode Islanders want fresh, local food.”

Nourish Our Neighbors is a way to support Hope and Main’s dozens of member companies as well as our local food system as a whole. “Using the funds we raised, Hope and Main-based chefs can purchase from local purveyors and prepare healthy food for vulnerable families in a time of need,” Raiola says.

Hope and Main’s team is working hard to distribute anywhere from 800 to 900 prepared meals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of every week. Many other businesses, such as, caterers, prepared meal companies, restaurants and food trucks are stepping up to assist. Companies like Savory Fare, the Holistic Trick, Mise, Flat Waves, BSquared, Good Vines, Basil and Bunny and others are staying active, cooking up ready-to-eat meals and incorporating local ingredients when possible. Around 2,400 free meals have been distributed, and the number keeps increasing every week.

An anonymous participant who picks up meals daily for herself and housebound neighbors said: “If I needed to use one word to describe it, ‘amazing’ would be the word of choice. I’m honored to be able to help children and elders in my community by delivering such well-balanced meals to them during this time of need. The staff is truly amazing and makes you feel so welcome when you go to pick up the meals. And I enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of the families when I drop off the food to them. It gives me a feeling like never before in my heart that I know I’m truly helping others.” 

A recent development within the Nourish Our Neighbors program is “Buy One, Give One.” This is intended to help sustain support in the months to come. Anyone who would like to do so can purchase a single-serving meal through Hope and Main’s website. For that cost, one meal will be available for the purchaser to pick up on Monday nights and one will be reserved for a community member in need for later in the week. Each healthy meal is freshly prepared in the Hope and Main kitchen.

For more information on Buy One, Give One, accessing meals or to donate to the Nourish Our Neighbors program please visit the Nourish Our Neighbors section on the Hope and Main website or email community@makefoodyourbusiness.org or call 401-245-7400.

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