NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - As the sun rises on another day, another meal is being prepped at Henley in Midtown.
“Today we have 200 meals going out, tomorrow we have 200 meals going out. And then on Friday we have 164 meals going out, General Manager James Garrido said.
These days, his team is slammed, and for that, he’s grateful.
“We’ve sort of turned it into a commissar kitchen to support the organizations that need it,” Garrido said.
That’s because Garrido has teamed up with the organizations the World Central Kitchen and Catholic Charities. A mutually beneficial partnership.
“World Central Kitchen pays us per meal. It is just enough...it’s very generous and it’s just enough to cover the cost of food, production and labor. Which helps us keep folks on the payroll, that might not be in such a quiet restaurant environment,” Garrido said.
Whitney Pastorek is Nashville’s Project Lead with the World Central Kitchen. They’re a relief organization designed initially for disaster relief. Because of the pandemic, they’ve adapted to the needs of today.
“Back in March, World Central Kitchen pivoted to this new model called 'Restaurants for the people -where they started paying restaurants in order to have THEM make the food for people in need,'” Pastorek said.
And they’ve helped organizations like Catholic Charities. The meal’s Garrido’s team prepares goes into a van to help feed Nashville’s hungry.
“We already have people coming on a regular basis to pick up food boxes from various locations that we serve from and, so the idea that they would bring us a meal that was prepared ready to eat...sort of a to-go meal, and be able to provide that along with the food box or in addition to a food box on a different day was fantastic,” Executive Director Judy Orr with Catholic Charities said.
“It’s not only good for keeping folks here and keeping people on the payroll, but it’s also good for souls. Helping people, helps,” Garrido said.
Orr says they’ve noticed an uptick in people reaching out since the pandemic began.
“We have a clientele base of 10 to 12,000 people a year. And when we can partner with a program like World Central Kitchen, to provide a meal that otherwise, that’s not a program that we have,” Orr said.
It’s why organizations, like Catholic Charities and the World Central Kitchen say they’re hoping donations and funding continues.
“I really hope that everyone understands that this need is not going away. That the pandemic isn’t over just because we want it to be over. And it is so important, especially now that those $600 a week unemployment benefits have gone away. That we keep track of our neighbors. We make sure that they are staying safe and we are doing whatever in our power to do that,” Pastorek said.