If you’ve been a Door of Hope supporter for a while, you’re probably familiar with our meal donor program. The popular volunteer program allows groups to serve a prepared dinner to our families at our transitional housing locations. This vital program was recently put on hold until further notice because of the COVID-19 crisis. Last year, 290 people served as Door of Hope meal donors. On nights without meal donors scheduled, Door of Hope parents take turns cooking for the entire house.
In the midst of COVID-19 we’ve had to change the way we operate in order to feed families. It’s not healthy to have families eat together or have various people in and out of the kitchen cooking any longer. Our families are facing a whole new challenge in the midst of experiencing homelessness.
Chef Tony Lancaster knows what this feels like. He came to Southern California in 2008 while experiencing homelessness, with nothing but a backpack and the will to make his life better. Today, he’s the owner of HOPE Cafe & Catering in Pasadena and board member at Door of Hope. He’s a wonderful example of someone who has worked hard to reach his goals against all odds – just like most of our families!
When COVID-19 hit the San Gabriel Valley in mid-March, Chef Tony’s catering business was changed drastically. “We’re under a lot of stress, just like everybody else. Our business may not make it through this downturn in business,” he shared shortly after he had to lay off his entire staff due to event cancellations.
You probably remember the headlines just weeks ago asking people not to “hoard” groceries…instead of stockpiling supplies, Chef Tony decided to give out what he had! In the midst of his own business laying off employees, he came to the rescue for Door of Hope families by donating the groceries he was going to use for upcoming events.
Chef Tony’s giving didn’t stop there! He offered to prepare meals for our families so they wouldn’t have to risk their health while using a shared kitchen and dining room. We had to figure out a way to feed the families (even more of a hard time because the kids are not in school so it’s literally 3 meals a day for 29 adults and 50 plus kids!) a job that took 290 volunteer meal donors last year, Chef Tony is doing alone every day.
But Chef Tony is not alone – you have been with him every step of the way with your food and supply donations. Not to mention your financial help to support our families in the midst of this financial strain. The meal prep changes and the added cost of food is a burden – but with YOUR help, we can do it!
Because of you, Chef Tony has been able to prepare delicious and safe meals, individually packaged, and delivered daily to Door of Hope families. He’s also trained our staff and families on how to serve the meals safely. Families safely eat meals in shifts (while maintaining social distance guidelines) and the dining room is disinfected in between shifts. This is a big adjustment for our families and staff, but you and Chef Tony have made it manageable with your generosity!