Families Need Food. Restaurant Workers Need Jobs. This New Delivery Service Connects Them.

Food It Forward, supported by donations, launches today. It connects local restaurants with Martha's Table.

Photograph via Clyde's' Facebook page.
Coronavirus 2020

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Ordering delivery isn’t just a good way to support restaurants in the midst of the coronavirus health crisis and widespread closures and layoffs. Now it’s also a way to get high-quality food to DC-area families in need. Clyde’s Restaurant Group and Knead Hospitality + Design (Succotash, Mi Vida) have teamed up with local nonprofit Martha’s Table for Food It Forward, an initiative that allows the public to purchase meals online from DC restaurants to be delivered to vulnerable populations. The first 200-plus packages will be delivered today.

“There are people who want to help. There are people who are desperate for food. There are people who can make this food and need work. Food It Forward is the solution.”, says Clyde’s CEO John McDonnell.

How it works: individuals can visit the website and select from a variety of donations, which range from single dinners ($13) to packages that feed a family of four ($50), plus options by the week or month ($91 to $1,500). Meals are currently prepared by Clyde’s and Knead in two central kitchens and distributed by Martha’s Table. The food is designed to be nourishing and comforting—think roast chicken dinners with farro and Brussels sprouts or barbecue beef brisket with Cajun rice and slaw. All donations come with bottled water, plastic cutlery, and dessert.

Both Clyde’s and Knead restaurants are still making meals for the dining public during this time. By launching Food It Forward, Clyde’s director of communication Molly Quigley says  they’re able to employ approximately 140 people who’re working with the organization and regular carry-out across their 12 restaurants—a number they hope to see grow. Food It Forward is looking to partner with other DC-area hospitality groups that have multiple locations that can sustain the quantity of orders, and also move production to another kitchen if individuals at a certain site become ill. 

“Every day, Martha’s Table is creating an expectation for a given quantity of people to show up and be fed.  It is our obligation to guarantee this happens.  When one individual is symptomatic or tests positive, the right thing to do is pull all of those in contact with that person out of production.  Thus, we have to have a backup to go forward,” says Quigley.

Food It Forward is one of a growing number of hospitality industry efforts to feed Washingtonians and keep workers employed amid a growing health crisis. In addition to the new organization, Knead Hospitality founders Jason Berry and Michael Reginbogin are partnering with the Lee Initiative, a bar and restaurant worker relief program launched by Succotash chef/partner Edward Lee and Maker’s Mark Bourbon. Hospitality workers can head to the Penn Quarter restaurant between 5 and 7 PM daily for meals and supplies like baby food, canned items and fresh produce. The program has grown to restaurants in 12 US cities, from its flagship location in Louisville, Kentucky, to Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.