Like many places across the country, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were heavily felt throughout Central New York’s food system. Particularly impacted were producers of dairy and vegetables who distributed to school systems and restaurants; as well as restaurants themselves with the sudden and lasting changes in consumption. The Nourish NY program helped stabilize producers effected by the pandemic by providing $25 million in funding to New York’s food banks to purchase produce and dairy products. Building on the success of that program, the State created the Restaurant Resiliency Program, setting aside $2M in funding for emergency food providers across CNY to purchase prepared meals from local restaurants and deliver them to families in need.
In December 2021, Peter Ricardo from the Food Bank of CNY (also a SOFSA Advisory Board Member) shared the availability of this innovative program at a SOFSA meeting, noting that with just four months remaining, the program was being drastically underutilized in Onondaga County. SOFSA then connected with Adam Sudmann from Salt City Market (and before that, the legendary My Lucky Tummy community meal series) who reached out to his network of food businesses and supported several of them to apply and take advantage of this incredible opportunity. Five purveyors – all women and/or minority-owned enterprises – were able to secure real income. Meanwhile, food insecure households in our community received incredible, restaurant-quality meals. The participating restaurants ultimately distributed 25,000 meals in less than three months’ time and generating a total of $524,564 to support their operations and reinvest in key business improvements.
Here are just a few anecdotes about this program’s incredible impact according to Sudmann:
- “Vendors at the market have absolutely loved participating in the Restaurant Resiliency program. The direct financial support is huge. It’s even more meaningful that they can simultaneously play a role in offering up good, healthy food to neighbors facing food insecurity. (Yes, these are business people, but this business – especially for small restaurants – isn’t just about revenue. It’s also about giving something of yourself and offering up nourishment, restoration and pleasure to your neighbors.)
- Latoya of Erma’s Island was laughing the other day about all the accolades she’s received – both from people who know Jamaican food well and people who didn’t know it at all, didn’t know the sophisticated spice profiles and are surprised and comforted to receive food this good, cooked with this much love.
- Our friend up the block – Habiba of Habiba’s Ethiopian Kitchen – was telling me the sheer amount of meals commissioned by the program through the end of March would mean she wouldn’t leave the kitchen – or sleep – for a month. (She said this with the biggest smile ever!)”
Join us in celebrating and supporting the awesome
local businesses that took advantage of this opportunity!
“Superior Service. Stellar Food.”
American Soul Food
Inside Salt City Market
484 S Salina St, Syracuse
Empanadas, oxtail, and more!
Caribbean Style Restaurant
552 Westcott Street, Syracuse