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Make a Difference Monday: Madison restaurants ‘Cook It Forward,’ and are asking for your help to feed the hungry

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Between the pandemic and polarizing politics, it often feels like our world is falling apart. Fortunately, communities like ours are filled with a lot of good. And we’re committed to showcasing that. Every Monday, we’ll be featuring a local organization or individual that’s serving the Madison-area… and might inspire you to do the same!

MADISON, Wis.– We know what it means to ‘pay it forward.’ Swap the word ‘pay’ with ‘cook’ and you have the name of one of Madison’s newest organizations.

Cook It Forward was created in June 2020 on a simple, but ambitious premise: to tackle the growing hunger crisis in our community. A group of Madison chefs, Francesca Hong, Patrick Sweeney, and Joshua Berkson, developed the idea to create an end-to-end distribution network to cook delicious meals and distribute them to people in need.

It’s basically their own supply chain. Cook It Forward partners with 14 local restaurants to produce healthy, fresh meals for food insecure families, seniors, and people living with disabilities.

The idea is for restaurants to utilize their underused kitchen space and staff to produce safe, packaged meals. Not only are they able to keep their workers employed, they’re able to keep local farmers and producers in business; meals are made with local ingredients. Then, Cook It Forward turns to local non-profits and community shelters for help delivering and distributing the meals.

Six months in, Cook It Forward has already made a major impact. Just look at the numbers. Since June, CIF has:

  • Delivered 50,000 meals to people in need
  • Retained 100% of employees at 14 Madison restaurants
  • Paid local farmers nearly $150,000 for their supplies
  • Raised more than $200,000 for local drop-off sites, mainly minority-owned non-profits

And the organization is just getting started. Here’s how you can help.

The leaders of Cook It Forward are constantly fundraising, looking for both corporate sponsors and individual donors.

You can donate an individual meal at cookitforwardmadison.com. You can also sign up to make a recurring monthly, quarterly, or annual donation.

And if you’re a business owner looking to get involved, click here.

Our partners at Madison Magazine featured Cook It Forward in their July issue. You can learn more about the organization here.

READ MORE: Local non-profit helps struggling families, seniors find stability this holiday season

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