Circumstances are changing daily for Off the Grid’s food Creators (our partner food trucks and restaurants). They’ve watched their once-bustling businesses and steady revenue streams dwindle as the pandemic steamrolls their livelihoods. Our mission has always been to build community through events while supporting our partners. We’ve recently connected with small businesses in the food supply chain who are also struggling. These local farmers, ranchers and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) growers have been devastated by first the pandemic — followed by the worst fire season on record. We realized we could fill a void that had opened between government-backed relief programs and our partners in trouble.
Help Was Here — But the Connection Was Missing
Over the past several months, multiple federal, state and local governments have implemented relief efforts. As we learned about these programs and formed alliances with many, such as the city of San Francisco and the city of San Jose, we knew we had to make sure our partners in need (many of whom are minority-owned) were receiving support. These small-business owners were overwhelmed with navigating the daily challenges of keeping their businesses afloat during a pandemic and an unprecedented wildfire season. They often weren’t aware support was available. And even if they did know, they encountered logistical challenges when trying to apply.
In our continued effort to support our Creators, supply-chain businesses and our community, we found a new way to help them all — we became a logistical liaison between them and government-backed relief programs.
We knew we had to act quickly – desperate, food-insecure people impacted by COVID-19 or the wildfires needed help immediately. With so many people requiring food and assistance, it would be a senseless tragedy if the supply-chain businesses lost their crops, animals — and income. Our Creators needed a revenue stream right away and couldn’t afford to wait weeks, months or years for the pandemic to end and the economy recover.
Off the Grid’s Strengths Become an Asset During Troublesome Times
One of our strengths has always been our ability to organize and coordinate innovative events, conferences, community gatherings, corporate dining, festivals and just about any circumstances that necessitate delicious food and people coming together to enjoy it. In our 10+ years of existence, we’ve learned how to effectively negotiate and coordinate with municipalities, event managers, corporations, nonprofits, cultural institutions and even airports. Capitalizing on our logistical expertise, we’ve plunged in and are helping our small businesses form connections and alliances with community and government-backed relief programs.
We’re honored and proud to have built supportive bridges between relief programs, our Creators, food supply partners and our community — here are a few examples:
One of our earliest efforts at connecting services with those in need was partnering with the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management in April 2020. At-risk seniors, COVID-quarantined or ill citizens, and low-income families lacked safe access to or couldn’t afford food and necessities. With the Great Plates Delivered Meal Program, Off the Grid seized an opportunity to support our income-deprived Creators and vulnerable individuals. Through the Great Plates program, we are delivering three free restaurant meals every day to at-risk seniors. We’re also proud to know we’ve served more than 414,194 meals to 1,173 food-insecure individuals.
Frontline Workers: We partnered with the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation to serve meals to frontline hospital employees. We also raised almost $16,000 (which includes our $5,000 match) and served essential grocery store workers 1,600 meals across 10 locations.
Fire Relief Efforts
When it became clear that we were in for a ferociously difficult fire season on top of this pandemic, Off the Grid saw another opportunity to support communities in need. In August, we created a GoFundMe campaign that raised $71,915 (the fund is now closed) to help support wildfire evacuees, fire-affected communities and first responders. With our partnerships, we’ve served 33,213 meals to people across Northern California affected by the wildfires.
We formed partnerships with the Salvation Army, Fresh Approach and Growing the Table and created the Farmers for Fire Relief program. We collaborated with food supply partners, including Pie Ranch, Brisa de Año Ranch and BIPOC growers, to get fresh ingredients into the kitchens of our fabulous Creators. Within 28 days of the program’s launch, we served high-quality meals to more than 800 evacuated families. We continue to explore ways to expand our support for fire-impacted communities.
How You Can Help
Learn more about our newest initiative- the San Jose COVID Food Relief Program in our recent blog and share the information about the program with your networks.