MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There’s something about sharing a meal that brings people together even during tough and uncertain times.
And that’s exactly what Community Center and Café has been doing all week for hospitality and restaurant workers who were laid off because of COVID-19 closures.
The nonprofit has fed hundreds of people so far but they haven’t done it alone.
The lunch rush gets busier every day inside the Caritas Community Center and Café kitchen.
The menu is always different but the moto is the same – pay it forward.
“The big picture here is humanity,” said the center’s executive director Kristin McMillin. “We’re still carrying on through this crisis.”
The Memphis Restaurant Association told FOX13 it estimates about 15,000 people are now unemployed after COVID-19 closures forced many restaurants to lay off its staff.
“Everyone lost their job at once and these are like my brothers and sisters out there,” Spencer McMillin, the center’s head chef said.
That’s why the McMillin’s wanted to step in and lend a hand, or this case, offer a meal.
They started the Restaurant Workers Unity Project last week, offering a free lunch to all laid-off restaurant and hospitality workers with no catch. They just have to show up.
“If we can just ease the burden even with just giving a meal that they can save $10 on that day, that’s enough,” Kristin McMillin said.
They’ve fed more than 700 people this week alone and said they’re prepared to feed 300 to 400 people a day.
That’s because farmers, churches and even other restaurants are paying it forward too.
Spencer McMillin said they’re gotten almost 3000 pounds of food donations.
“I’m overwhelmed,” he said. “I’m as overwhelmed if not more than the community is, it’s a blessing to me to able to do it, it really is.”
In Latin, caritas means “love for all” and the McMillin’s said they plan on sharing that love for a good meal as long as it’s needed.
The free lunch is available every Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Caritas Community Center and Café in Binghamton.
If you’d like to donate money or supplies, visit their website at https://caritasvillage.org/
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