When the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill, we at Cater2.me, along with many of our partners and clients, found ourselves in uncharted territory. Like many others, we were asking, “How can we help?” Our answer was to launch our Vendor Support & Community Assistance Program.
“We wanted to work alongside our clients to help the very businesses that inspired Zach and Alex to start Cater2.me in the first place,” said Chief of Staff Jonathan Altshuler
Through this program, we have partnered with our clients to facilitate the donation of their regularly-scheduled office meals to local food rescue organizations. Through this effort, we have been able to feed hungry people in local communities while supporting local restaurants by continuing large-scale catering orders during a time when regular business is down.
In partnering with companies like Sailthru, Cision, and Calendly, we’ve been able to donate more than 2,000 meals and counting (these meals represent more than $25,000 in revenue for local food vendors).
Serving Communities in Atlanta
One of our earliest partners in this effort came in early March, just as Atlanta businesses were forced to close. Calendly, a scheduling tech company, reached out to us about finding a way to make use of their planned office meals while they transitioned to work from home.
“The timing was perfect. We were just launching our program when we heard from Calendly that they’d be working from home,” Altshuler said. “They were sad to postpone their catered meals but were so generous in allowing us to continue planning them for the benefit of a local organization helping those in need.”
According to Calendly Office Manager Amy Fincher, making the switch to donate their regularly scheduled office meals was a no-brainer and felt like the perfect way to help their local community.
“Calendly provides employees with a few meals per week, catered to our office,” said Fincher. “We simply shifted from feeding employees, to feeding our friends and neighbors.”
We got to work, starting by looking for the right food rescue partner. That’s when we found Second Helpings, which works to reduce hunger and food waste in the Metropolitan Atlanta area. Their unique, non-warehouse format allows them to optimize donations by matching recipient organizations based on factors like proximity and size.
Donating prepared meals also took the burden off shelter staff, who typically spend hours cooking meals with raw ingredients.
“We were thrilled to get the call about donating meals to hungry people,” said Andrea Jaron, Executive Director of Second Helpings Atlanta.
Supporting Local Restaurants
In addition to providing meals to those experiencing food insecurity, these donations also support local restaurants through large-scale catering orders.
“As vendors struggled with immediate challenges to their business it was important for us to remember one of our core values — creating community around shared meals,” said Josh Kameny, Director of Vendor Relations. “It has been incredible to see generous clients supporting our vendor partners and those in need, creating a really powerful opportunity to lift up an entire community.”
By donating regularly scheduled meals, we’re able to guarantee a steady stream of income for these small businesses. We also waived our commissions to enhance the benefit even further for our vendors.
Jeremy Cowan, Owner of Jack’s New Yorker Deli in Buckhead, received the first order from the donated meals back in March.
“Calendly’s generosity not only helped to feed those in need, but also allowed our small business to keep 10 employees working for another week,” said Cowan. “We’re so grateful for the awesome work of Second Helpings, and the kindness of Calendly and Cater2.me to give back to our community.”
Serving communities everywhere
Since launching the program in March, we have been serving communities in various cities across the country.
“Developing a full circle opportunity for our vendors and the communities they service during a time of crisis helps define what hospitality is all about: taking care of each other,” Kameny said.
As we look towards the future and things continue to change, our hope is always to continue to adapt and help where we can.
Want to set up a local, vendor-supplied donation to an organization in your community? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.