Last May, Medium Rare owner Mark Bucher spent Mother’s Day delivering over 1200 free meals from his three steak-frites restaurants to moms and grandmas who were separated from their families due to the pandemic. Recipients were greeted by restaurant employees and volunteers with platters of French toast, eggs, flowers, and personalized cards made by Montgomery County public school students.
It was the start of a big year of giving and fundraising for Bucher, who began delivering free meals to isolated seniors when Covid hit in March. His efforts for Mother’s Day snowballed—Bucher raised over $38,000 and received donations of steak and sides from other restaurants like Charlie Palmer Steak. That was just the beginning of his collaborations. In August, Bucher founded Feed the Fridge, a nonprofit that’s placed 29 “community refrigerators” at rec centers, schools, churches, and other locations around the DC area. They supply free, nourishing meals from local restaurants to anyone in need—no registration or questions asked. So far, the program has supplied 754,321 meals prepared by Medium Rare and partner restaurants like Cava, Little Sesame, and Chaia, which are paid $6 per meal by the organization—for many, a much-needed income boost during the pandemic.
“We’re using the power of restaurants and chefs to solve hunger,” Bucher says. “Our entire staff has really rallied behind it. It kept us together over this crappy year, and helped us keep everyone employed.”
Now Bucher and Feed the Fridge want to take their Mother’s Day plans to the next level. In addition to delivering free brunches to moms and grandmas again, Bucher wants to reunite ten families who have been separated during the pandemic at a surprise Mother’s Day brunch. It will take place at Medium Rare locations in Cleveland Park, Arlington, and Bethesda—and Bucher is covering airfare and hotel expenses for those who need to travel to DC. Families will be selected through a contest that Medium Rare launched on Twitter yesterday. Interested applicants should submit a story explaining why they’ve been separated during the pandemic. Bucher says the idea was inspired by surprise military homecomings. Several corporate sponsors have signed on to help fund the contest, including Watermark and Silverstone Communities.
As for the criteria?
“We’re looking for stories that grab us—really heartfelt stories,” Bucher says. “We want to make this happen for families that couldn’t do it on their own. We’re looking for need versus want.”
Those interested in entering the contest can email firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re interested in volunteering to deliver food on Mother’s Day, visit this website.