Portland restaurants team up to cook meals for homeless shelters

Multnomah County spent $ 163,000 on food in the first three weeks of emergency shelters opening, with the program scheduled to continue until at least June.

PORTLAND, Oregon – Some 600 homeless people in Portland are being moved from overcrowded shelters to large open spaces at sites like the Oregon Convention Center, two empty hotels and various community centers.

There are six of these temporary shelters across town. It’s an emergency measure to physically distance yourself, get medical attention, showers and yes, food.

Now at least 23 Portland restaurants have received a financial lifeline, being paid to feed all of those people, three meals a day, every day.

“You take people who lived in a place that could have worked very well for them and then they moved to another place. It’s a potential stressor and a potential trauma inducer,” said Craig Gerard, owner. and founder of Stone Soup.

Related: Oregon Convention Center to become temporary homeless shelter during coronavirus

Related: Jupiter Hotel in Portland to become homeless shelter during pandemic

It is Portland’s only non-profit restaurant training program and the only downtown lunch counter.

The Hand of Stone Soup selects people at risk or who have just come out of homelessness and accompanies them through a 12-week program to teach cooking and serving skills.

If the participants are successful, they get a paid internship at a partner restaurant with the possible hope of a job. This is a program that KGW described in depth for months in 2019, following the first cohort of interns as they progressed through the work and life skills portion of the program, including ups and downs. You can watch them at the links below.

Related: Stone Soup teaches life and cooking skills to those at risk of homelessness

Related: Gresham single mom determined to graduate Stone Soup

Related: Stone Soup celebrates its first graduates

The day the governor closed the meals in person, Stone Soup was shutting down. Then the phone rang.

“People who were moving from a shelter to these new shelters had to be fed. And Multnomah County was looking for someone to provide some of the meals,” Gerard said.

Stone Soup went ahead and recruited 23 restaurants to help, with many minorities and women owned, all once again pledging to feed the people.

Multnomah County paid them $ 163,000 in the three weeks since it began on March 21. The money pays for three meals a day, seven days a week, for up to 600 people. That’s over 12,600 meals a week. Currently, approximately 450 to 500 people live in these shelters.

The plan is to continue the contract and shelter program for at least three months, which would mean mid-June depending on what’s going on with the coronavirus.

County spokesman Denis Theriault told KGW: “For now, the county is looking to its contingency funds to respond to this emergency. We will be doing a thorough budget review during the annual budget process. this spring while working to identify anything that can be paid for by state and federal emergency funding. “

Craig Gerard’s restaurant was saved by this and now others are too.

“These are small, independent restaurants that couldn’t necessarily survive on just take-out and they were able to use this contracted meal service to keep their business going,” he said.

Stone Soup made 30 to 40 breakfast orders a day. Today, they prepare 375 meals, all with individual and hygienic packaging. This transformed their dining room into a mass assembly line kitchen. With its main objective of making a difference and teaching people at risk of homelessness professional skills, this project comes full circle.

“All of our food and beverage providers come together and live the stone soup model, meaning everyone has a little to gain and share when it comes to problem solving. more important. “

Beaverton Toyota is also helping. The dealership just donated a car for three months to help deliver all of those meals from restaurants to shelters.

Here is the list of restaurants paid to provide meals:

Toro Bravo Restaurant Group


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Sandy A. Greer

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