Cook it Forward campaign provides food and access to those in need

The new food insecurity relief project launched on June 30
Hands offering a loaf of bread in a blue towel.

Cook it Forward is the one of the latest responses to the impact of COVID-19 on the Madison community.

The campaign led by well-known Madison food purveyors Francesca Hong of Morris Ramen and Patrick Sweeney and Josh Berkson of Rule No. One Hospitality, started June 30. The project is a collaboration with nonprofits Collaboration For Good, Food Works and the Center for Community Stewardship.

Cook it Forward functions as a food insecurity relief project for those in need in Madison. The effort is made up of local restaurants and nonprofits with the goal of creating an effective food distribution network by producing healthy meals for those in need and making sure those individuals receive it. The project also works to support independently-owned restaurants and their employees, local farmers, distributors and delivery drivers.

“We don’t know the exact numbers, but we do know that there are multiple hundreds of families who are both food insecure and lack mobility,” Collaboration for Good posted on Facebook. “Some lack transportation, some lack secondary care for young children, some are elderly, some are people with disabilities, and more … Our goal with Cook it Forward is to ensure that those who need food and lack the ability/mobility to get access to it are provided for.”

The project began in the participating restaurants, where meals are created and individually packaged before being delivered to local food bank and pantry sites. Distribution “last-mile” partners will then make sure that insecure families who need meals have them provided.

Cook it Forward has several big-picture goals. First, to deliver over 50,000 meals to those who need them, prioritizing communities of color who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Then, to generate more than $500,000 in revenue for the participating restaurants and their workers. Third, to provide a way to rehire and retain hundreds of restaurant workers.

The roster of participating restaurants for Cook it Forward includes Ancora Coffee, Banzo, Casetta, Forage, Gates & Brovi, Graze, Harvest, Heritage Tavern, L’Etoile, La Kitchenette, La Taguara, Lucille, Madtown Food Services, Marie’s Soul Food, Marigold, Merchant, Morris Ramen, Pasture & Plenty, Sardine, The Old Fashioned and Tapatios.

After its first week, Cook it Forward delivered 240 meals and served 105 families. However, as the campaign grows and gains more support, it is looking to eventually produce 2,000 meals twice a week to serve around 500 families in the Madison area.

To support the Cook it Forward project and those involved, click here.

Hannah Twietmeyer is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.