Food Love. For Life.

by | Jan 21, 2021 | Trending News

A tribe of Jewish restaurateurs and food entrepreneurs have been hunting and gathering meals on behalf of the local community and to address food insecurity for most of their adult lives.

These individuals and their food businesses have especially made a variety of contributions to share their love through food during the pandemic. Why are they still going strong decade after decade? What lies behind their instinct to feed others in ways that go well beyond the walls of their restaurant or stands at local farmer’s market?

Charles Greenwood, BagelNUTZ and Brutti’s Catering
It’s easy for me to recognize the importance of giving and sharing when I consider all the humans in our world that are struggling to survive every day. Perhaps more importantly I don’t understand and find it impossible to accept how many people in our community, our world could care less about people who are at risk.

Sharing and giving feels good and knowing that what I can give and share brings comfort and happiness to others goes beyond feeling good, beyond mitzvah…it is my purpose. I challenge myself every day to grow and be successful because it fuels and feeds my desire and mission to give and help others. You asked what keeps me coming back? I guess because I will never be satisfied and will never accept that “enough is enough.” That’s why I’m focused on building a BagelNUTZ factory…to help fund my purpose, my mission of giving well beyond my days.

Among Greenhood’s contributions, Brutti’s has fed breakfast to First Responders through Ohef Sholom Temple’s Love Thy Neighbor program and lunch to the congregation’s Soup Kitchen’s guests.

Jerry Metlsner, No Frill Grill
I have been very lucky to be part of our great community, not self-serving, but serving…and serving more than just food, creating a space for our customers to gather with their friends and family to share all life has to offer…that’s what we provide.

Among Meltsner’s contributions, No Frill Grill has fed dinner to overnight guests of NEST, Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team, as well as provided meals for ForKids, Begin Again, and Park Place School.

John Stein, Baker’s Crust and Neighborhood Harvest
Serving and feeding the community over the last 28 years has been guided by our mission “Eat Well, Be Happy.” Being a responsible corporate citizen and giving back is part of our DNA and lived through our guiding principles. I guess you could say it’s our calling, we love what we do, and we hope that it shows.

The Neighborhood Harvest delivers to 25 families in the food desserts of Hampton Roads every other week for no charge nutritious fruits and vegetables. Baker’s Crust delivers at no charge to the same areas to families that have COVID and can’t get out to buy food.

Lori Golding Zontini, It Takes a Fig
Knowing what it means to go hungry myself, no one should ever go without. ‘Everyone must eat’ are words I live by. It started with my jam company called It Started with a Fig. I gave jam to homeless shelters. My father-in-law was the executive director of JCOC. All these things came together and provided a platform for me to get involved and find solutions to food insecurity in the area. I’ve been feeding our communities now for almost seven years. My mission is to help feed people regionally here in Hampton Roads and to foster relationships throughout the region that address the needs of food deserts with long-term solutions, rather than placing a band-aid on a systemic problem.

Jonathan Friedman, co-owner, I-Hop
As the Covid-19 virus hit our shores, our country was forced to change how everyone operates day to day. From restaurant dining rooms being closed and the vast majority of people still not comfortable dining out. I wouldn’t call it instinct or even a mission, but “Pancakes with a Purpose.” Hospitals/First Responders continue to be overwhelmed with this pandemic. These folks work countless hours, putting themselves in harm’s way. I call it an honor to be able to give to these heroes that make a difference in all of our lives.

When things got extremely scary in the hospitality industry, our staff needed something to make us feel they had a purpose. That’s where “Pancakes with a Purpose” came in; feeding more than 1,000 heroes with IHOPs world famous pancakes, it’s more about being an active part of our community than anything else. Giving staff members the opportunity to give back, gave us a sense of normalcy in a time when nothing is normal. Hashem has granted me the ability to give back, and that is what I will continue to do.

A community is nothing without people willing to make a difference. As a community, we must set the example and not be the example.

– Lisa Richmon