As the pandemic shuttered restaurants across the United States and hospitals were filling up with COVID-19 patients, a group of dedicated volunteers came together to make a difference.
Joining forces, they created Off Their Plate, a volunteer-run organization that works to tackleâ€”and endâ€”hunger and food insecurity. For every dollar raised at Off Their Plate, the group strives to feed the hungry and employ small businesses that have been hurt by COVID-related revenue loss.
While Off Their Plate was inspired by the COVID-19 crisis, the volunteers saw a need for their help across the country and expanded their reach to not only help those impacted by the pandemic, but to focus their efforts on women and minority-owned restaurants.
â€œOur mission is to help those communities build back stronger by handling the logistics between those who can provide meals and who need them,â€ the volunteers explained. â€œWe work with our restaurant partners to drive sustainable food supply chains, and to ensure funds are redistributed to the restaurant workers themselves via fair wages.â€
But their mission doesnâ€™t end there: the volunteers not only focus on feeding the hungry, but also strive to ensure that the food is nutritious and healthy â€œOur belief is that food is more than pounds or calories, so we deliver hot, wholesome meals that offer not only nutrition, but are served with dignity and respect,â€ they said.
To prepare these meals, Off Their Plate works with women-of-color-owned restaurants, which were among the last in line to receive Paycheck Protection Program loans that were put in place to support businesses in the pandemic. The volunteers are dedicated to investing in underserved communities to help them rebuild their businesses in a post-COVID world, while also building relationships with these restaurants to participate in their giveback.
Since Off Their Plate was founded in March 2020, they have raised upwards of $8.3 million to provide more than 830,000 meals in 11 cities across the U.S., and create more than 275,000 hours of employment at partner restaurants. Looking towards the future, the nonprofit hopes to become the leading organization tackling hunger and food insecurity through services, and to inspire other social impact leaders to tackle issues close to them.