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East Bay “Eats Strong” During Covid-19 Crisis Thanks to New Hope & Main-based Program

Nourish Our Neighbors launches with 2,400 free meals distributed, and counting

Caitlin Mandel, Hope & Main’s Market & Community Program Manager, drops bagfuls of meals and fresh greens into the car of a local recipient during weekday morning pickups. Photo by Rupert Whiteley
Caitlin Mandel, Hope & Main’s Market & Community Program Manager, drops bagfuls of meals and fresh greens into the car of a local recipient during weekday morning pickups. Photo by Rupert Whiteley

HOPE & MAIN, the nonprofit food business incubator, recently launched the Nourish Our Neighbors program with donations raised from more than 250 generous donors and a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation’s Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund. The program is a part of the nonprofit’s urgent response to support both the community and the local food economy during the Covid-19 crisis.

Nourish Our Neighbors is designed to ensure that local families, individuals and seniors have access to wholesome, prepared meals at a time when access to nutritious food is an increasing and critical challenge.

“During these unprecedented times we are seeing the breakdown of the local food supply chain. It makes no sense that the State’s farmers and fisherman have no market for what is locally cultivated and landed here, at the very moment when Rhode Islanders want fresh, local food. Consumers want to support them, but the distribution channels aren’t there. Nourish Our Neighbors is a way to support business continuity for our dozens of member companies as well as our local food system. Using the funds we raised, HOPE & MAIN-based chefs can purchase from local purveyors and prepare healthy food for vulnerable families in a time of need,” says Lisa Raiola, MPH, President and Founder of HOPE & MAIN. “There is nothing healthier than the food we cultivate and produce right here.”

The meals are a nutritious compliment to the free breakfasts and lunches supplied by the Bristol Warren School District that HOPE & MAIN has been distributing since mid-March from 8am-11am every Monday through Friday. The Nourish Our Neighbors team is also delivering 220+ frozen, reheatable meals each Friday to the area’s three Senior Centers. All of the Nourish Our Neighbors meals are provided at absolutely no cost to recipients.

An anonymous participant who retrieves meals daily for herself and housebound neighbors said “If I needed to use one word to describe it, ‘amazing’ would be the word of choice. I’m honored to be able to help children and elders in my community by delivering such well-balanced meals to them during this time of need. The staff is truly amazing and make you feel so welcome when you go to pick up the meals. And I enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of the families when I drop off the food to them. It gives me a feeling like never before in my heart that I know I’m truly helping others.”

Community-based food businesses like Gotham Greens, Blount Fine Foods and Granny Squibb have also contributed food and supplies, says Kelley McShane, Managing Partner, The Granny Squibb Company, “HOPE & MAIN has always been a great support to Rhode Islanders and the small business/start-up community. It’s incredible to see how they have stepped up during a time of crisis. We are honored to be able to play a small part in their efforts.”

Roger Williams University has additionally partnered with HOPE & MAIN by providing a part-time staff member from Dining Services, Don Fitting, to help exclusively with the Nourish Our Neighbors program. “As part of our mission to strengthen society, RWU is proud to support HOPE & MAIN’s efforts to provide assistance to those impacted by Covid-19 through unemployment, public school facility closings, and to our local senior citizens,” said President Ioannis Miaoulis. Raiola notes, “As a life-long East Bay resident, Don has been a wonderful resource bringing both talent and heart to this ambitious initiative.”

Now three weeks into operations, HOPE & MAIN’s team is organizing to distribute 800-900 prepared meals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week. Caterers, prepared meal companies, restaurants and food trucks based at the nonprofit’s facility are eagerly stepping up to assist, many adapting and re-focusing their business models to meet current demand. Companies like Savory Fare, The Holistic Trick, Mise, Flat Waves, BSquared, Good Vines, Basil & Bunny and others are staying active, cooking up wholesome, ready-to-eat meals, incorporating local ingredients (including other HOPE & MAIN makers’ products) when possible.

“Being a part of Nourish Our Neighbors has been an incredible blessing for all of us at Flat Waves Food Shack. When 100% of our catering business was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were very concerned about the immediate future of our business,” says Will Burgess, owner of Flat Waves Food Shack and member of HOPE & MAIN’s copacking program, “Nourish Our Neighbors has helped keep our entire staff working, provided an outlet for our perishable food that otherwise may have spoiled, and brought some positivity, hope, joy (and income) to our business!”

The latest development in the Nourish Our Neighbors program is dubbed “Buy One, Give One”, intended to help sustain support in the months to come. Anyone with the means to do so can purchase a single-serving meal through HOPE & MAIN’s website. For that cost, one meal will be available for the purchaser to pick up on Monday evenings and one will be reserved for a community member in need for later in the week. Says Raiola: “These are beautiful, healthy meals, freshly prepared with care in our kitchens. I love that we will all be able to eat the same food — almost like gathering at the same table — to create a community of common support. This is how, together, we will get through this.”

For more information on Buy One, Give One, accessing meals or to donate to the Nourish Our Neighbors program please visit https://makefoodyourbusiness.org/nourish-our-neighbors/. Email community@makefoodyourbusiness.org or call (401) 245-7400.


Yacht Club Bottling Works Returns to Politics with the Release of Their Second “Soda Pop Poll” featuring Donald’s Big League Punch and Joe’s Berry-Blue Lemonade

Yacht Club Bottling Works "Soda Pop Poll" 2020, photo by David S. Dadekian
Yacht Club Bottling Works “Soda Pop Poll” 2020, photo by David S. Dadekian

Yacht Club Bottling Works, The Official Soda and Water Company of Rhode Island, is getting back into politics for the 2020 presidential election with the return of their Soda Pop Poll. This year people have the choice of two new Limited Release flavors to show their presidential preference: Donald’s Big League Punch and Joe’s Berry-Blue Lemonade. As with the last presidential Soda Pop Poll, Yacht Club will release the results of the poll this fall to see which political pop New Englanders like best.

If you’re not interested in “voting” for Donald’s Big League Punch or Joe’s Berry-Blue Lemonade, Yacht Club will be re-releasing last summer’s Limited Release hit Berrymelon Rebellion as the 3rd party flavor choice. In 2016 the palates of New Englanders predicted the winner of the election. Of the 48,048 politically themed bottles sold that summer and fall, 46.3% of them were Donald’s Populist Punch, proving narrowly more popular than Hillary’s Liberal Limeade.

“People had so much fun trying our election flavors and ‘voting’ with their taste buds in 2016 that we knew we had to do it again this year, but with new sodas,” said Yacht Club owner John Sgambato. “Donald’s Big League Punch is a new and improved version of 2016’s Donald’s Populist Punch and Joe’s Berry-Blue Lemonade is a lemonade at heart but with a fun twist. Remember, every soda sold is a vote for that candidate to become President of Soda Pop!”

As has become the standard for Yacht Club’s Limited Release label art, Sgambato described his concept to nationally syndicated sports, editorial and entertainment cartoonist/artist and Rhode Island resident, Frankie Galasso, who drew both Trump and Biden labels in his own inimitable caricaturist style. Galasso considers himself “a bit of a soda freak” and enjoys his Yacht Club collaborations. Galasso can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/frankgalassori/.

All three Soda Pop Poll flavors are now available at the Yacht Club Bottling Works Factory Store in North Providence—see their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/YachtClubSoda/ for updated hours, will be sold at farmers markets and can be found in local stores and restaurants through distribution by McLaughlin & Moran. Plus, Yacht Club has an updated web site at https://www.yachtclubsoda.com/ with online ordering and will ship all their flavors to anywhere in the United States.

Donald’s Big League Punch, Joe’s Berry-Blue Lemonade and Berrymelon Rebellion will only be available through election season, or while supplies last, so don’t miss out on your chance to vote in the Soda Pop Poll!


Newport Restaurant Group Celebrates Mother’s Day with Takeout Offerings

Newport Restaurant Group

Newport Restaurant Group (NRG), an award-winning collection of unique restaurant concepts throughout Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts, is celebrating moms this Mother’s Day with takeout options from Iron Works in Warwick and Avvio Ristorante in Cranston.

Iron Works, located at 697 Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick, will offer a selection of specials in addition to its full takeout menu from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Specials include Crab Cakes: lump crab, seasonal slaw, and smoked tomato-aleppo pepper aioli; Shrimp Risotto with blistered grape tomatoes, corn, mascarpone cheese and fresh herbs; and a 16 oz. Bone-In Ribeye with potato and leek gratin, sautéed spinach, and house steak sauce. Family-style side dishes feature Garlicky Broccolini, Gruyere Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and Roasted Mushrooms, Fennel & Carrots. For the full menu and to place an order, visit https://www.ironworkswarwick.com/.

Avvio Ristorante, located at Garden City Center at 90 Hillside Road in Cranston, will be offering a family-style takeout menu for Mother’s Day from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., in addition to its full takeout menu. The family-style menu feeds four people and includes a half sheet pan of focaccia bread, salad, entrée, and dessert for $100.

Salad options include a Caesar with romaine, focaccia crisp, creamy anchovy dressing, Grana Padano; and the Insalata di Avvio with romaine, arugula, radicchio, shaved fennel, Grana Padano, and a lemon basil vinaigrette.

Entrée selections include Chicken Piccata: pan-sautéed chicken, roasted potatoes, green beans, and a lemon, white wine, and caper butter sauce; Chicken Parmesan with penne pomodoro; Rigatoni Bolognese with a beef, veal, pork, and tomato ragu and Grana Padano; or Penne con Pollo with grilled chicken, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, roasted garlic, and a white wine butter sauce. Dessert features Assorted Cookies, including lemon biscotti, cannoli, and chocolate chip cookies.

Family-style orders must be placed by 8:00 p.m. on Saturday for Sunday pick up. For the full menu and to place an order, visit https://www.avvioristorante.com/.

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