Some of Portland’s restaurants, pop-ups and food carts are helping those affected by wildfires

The restaurant and food service industry does not have it easy right now, between the pandemic and the smoke from the wildfires that have almost completely cut off indoor and outdoor dining. But many Portland food businesses, including restaurants, pop-ups, and food carts, have come forward to support their neighboring communities in impressive ways.

Over the weekend and week the young Malka decided to close for take out. The restaurant had opened a few weeks before the pandemic and the margins were already stretched. But on the weekends, owners Jessie Aron and Colin McArthur went to the kitchen early in the morning to prepare bowls of rice to give away.

“I had this fantasy of what it would be like [opening my restaurant]”Aron says.” And then a lot has happened in the world, and my desire for what a restaurant can do and achieve has changed. Rather than creating a fantasy, I’m more interested in being a force in the world. well in the reality we find ourselves in right now, which is not a magical moment.

Malka has actually prepared meals for those in need throughout the pandemic. Very early on, two Malka employees, Adrian Groenendyk and Eli Goldberg, created Crisis cuisine, which distributes tamales and other free meals to people in need of food. Soon after, owners Aron and McArthur began donating bowls of rice to those in need, using deposit donations from customers.

To feed forest fire evacuees, Malka teamed up with Feed the mass and SnackBloc PDX, who both helped coordinate the delivery of free meals to where they were needed most. Feed the Mass, a group run by volunteers, feeds hundreds of people evacuated by forest fires and other food insecure people every day. SnackBloc, which started in 2017 as a vehicle to provide supplies and support for protests and other community events, has expanded its assistance to include wildfire evacuees. Malka also made bowls of barbecue pork, bowls of sambal-glazed fried chicken, and bowls of tofu and chickpea fritters for the firefighters of the Clackamas Fire Department, all filled with the signature blend of fruits, vegetables, textures, curries and complex sauces that Malka has quickly become known.

“We could probably feed more people if we just made simpler foods, but I still want to hang on to my identity as a cook,” says Aron. “I am proud of what I do. I have seen people eat it and be comforted by it in an unusual way. There are a lot of things that go into it. … it can make people feel taken care of in a unique way, I hope. ”

Italian beef and pastrami shop Sammich, which has branches in Ashland and Portland, allows customers to pay for a sandwich in advance. Stores have been closed as owner Melissa McMillen teams up with World Central Kitchen to feed those affected by the fires in Medford. Naomi Pomeroy from Beast worked with World Central Kitchen, feeding 800 people a day. Some of the other restaurants that have donated include Boke bowl, Red Sauce Pizza, and Vivi dove.

Pop-ups and food carts have also stepped up to help people displaced by the fires. HeyDay donuts, which specializes in mochi donuts, sold stickers during its pop-up last Friday. The money raised from the sticker sale went directly to those affected by the wildfires, and HeyDay matched it in additional donations. Keeyeowo, a pop-up specializing in sweets like tea chocolates, kimchi pizza and bungeoppang (fish-shaped pastries) donated the proceeds from its pop-up Monday in La Perlita to forest fire refugees.

Jacky Ren, co-owner of the food cart and jianbing pop-up Bing Mi, has decided to donate the proceeds from Thursday’s pop-up at La Perlita to those affected by the forest fires. The event ended up grossing $ 200. The cart closed early Saturday afternoon due to poor air quality, but Ren continued to serve the community by donating jianbings to Feed the Mass volunteers.

Giving meals is nothing new for Bing Mi. The company has partnered with Adopt a restaurant feed those who need food throughout the pandemic. There is a donation box in the basket, and every time customers donate cash or buy a gift card, Bing Mi will use all these funds to donate food, and also match the value of those funds. in food donations. Ren says expressions of gratitude are always appreciated – he remembers donating jianbing to the Clackamas fire department yesterday and receiving a heartfelt thank you.

When asked why he continued to donate food even as restaurants were exhausted from the pandemic and smoke, Ren replied, “We have a lot of people supporting us. I feel like it’s our responsibility to do something for the community, and it’s not that hard for us to do … Even if it’s not much, it could attract more people who might also be interested in donating more food or portion. “

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Sandy A. Greer