Several Central Kentucky community organizations recently announced the creation of Nourish Lexington, an initiative to utilize hospitality workers recently unemployed due to the COVID-19 closings as well as other community food assets to provide prepared meals to those who need immediate access to food.
FoodChain, with support from the E.E. Murry Family Foundation, Keeneland and VisitLEX, formed Nourish Lexington as a model collaboration to use the skills and talents of local chefs, businesses, farms, funders and nonprofit agencies in order to feed our hungry community members. Other generous donors who have stepped forward to support the cause include The Lavin Family Foundation and the Jenna and Matthew Mitchell Family Foundation.
“The mission of the E.E. Murry Family Foundation is to eliminate poverty. We believe that starts with stopping poverty before it begins. With that goal in mind, we partnered with FoodChain, Keeneland, VisitLEX and the Blue Grass Community Foundation to create income opportunities for individuals displaced by COVID-19 in the service industry and serve meals to those in need,” said Wes Murry of the E. E. Murry Family Foundation.
He added, “The road ahead for these community members will be hard. So many of our family and friends have lost their jobs. Our duty is to help where we can, creating purpose and income and providing nourishment to those in need.”
“Our community is known for its hospitality, care and innovation,” VisitLEX President Mary Quinn Ramer said. “Nourish Lexington showcases all those attributes by providing an immediate solution that leverages available kitchen facilities, expertise in food service and efficiencies of food preparation and distribution. It also recognizes the dignity and inherent worth of all Lexingtonians in these troubled times, allowing each person to contribute where their skills are needed.”
In exchange for preparing and delivering meals, food service workers will receive a $60 payment for a four-hour shift. Meals will be distributed to hospitality industry families, other families in need, seniors in affordable housing apartment complexes, and children and their families through family resource coordinators.
When Keeneland was forced to cancel its spring race meet due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the track understood the impact upon the Central Kentucky community. To help provide relief, Keeneland donated 1,500 pounds of food to the Nourish Lexington program and will contribute 100% of the proceeds from online sales from The Keeneland Shop and Keeneland Mercantile during the month of April to the effort.
“Keeneland is part of the rich fabric of this community. After the difficult decision to cancel our race meet, we refocused our energies to help those in our industry and Central Kentucky community who are most vulnerable,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “This community supports Keeneland year-round, and this is a time when we all must come together to support one another.”
Nourish Lexington, will be piloted at FoodChain’s kitchen facility at the corner of Jefferson and West 6th Street in downtown Lexington.
“On a day-to-day basis, FoodChain’s mission is to forge connections between community and fresh food, so we are keenly aware of the limitations of food access and the alarming number of families and individuals who are food insecure in our town. Under the current crisis, with the need for meals rising at exponential rates, we had to leverage as many of our resources, partnerships and infrastructure as possible to address the problem,” said FoodChain Executive Director Becca Self. “That our kitchen and networks could be an asset to bring Lexington’s skilled food sector together to produce ready-to-eat meals safely, while also coordinating their delivery to places that could be accessible to those most in need, has been a blessing in these otherwise turbulent times.”
In addition to FoodChain, Whitaker Bank Ball Park has also stepped up to offer another point of distribution for the meals prepared by Nourish Lexington. The announcement comes at a critical time when Fayette County Public Schools suspended its food drop-off at bus stops, and schools and businesses are closed for an extended period.
Nourish Lexington is fueled by the generous donations from community partners and members of the public. To learn more about this effort and help feed members of our community who need it most, visit www.nourishlexington.org or https://bgcf.givingfuel.com/nourishfund
Murry concluded, “Having FoodChain take a lead in Nourish Lexington was a natural choice. Let’s all do our part to help Becca Self and her team at FoodChain make a meaningful difference and create a blueprint for others to follow. If you are able to donate funds, or you are an owner of a commercial kitchen and have a passion to help, reach out. With FoodChain, we are building a blueprint that we hope others will follow. Together, we can make a real and lasting difference in our community.”
To apply to work a shift at the Nourish Kitchen, receive a meal or learn more about donating product or kitchen space to Nourish Lexington, visit www.nourishlexington.org.
About Nourish Lexington:
Nourish Lexington is an initiative to utilize the skills and talents of hospitality workers recently unemployed due to the COVID-19 closings to provide prepared meals to those who need immediate access to food. In exchange for preparing and delivering meals, food service workers will receive a $60 payment for a four-hour shift. Meals will be distributed to hospitality industry families, other families in need, seniors in affordable housing apartment complexes and children and their families through family resource coordinators. To learn more visit www.nourishlexington.org
Update: Nourish Lexington has distributed more than 6,300 meals in its first full week of distribution, and has also hired 20 displaced restaurant workers to prepare and deliver those meals.
Local businesses have also made contributions, including FoodChain (donated 100% of their freshly-grown vegetables), Keeneland Racecourse (donated 1,500 lbs. of food) and Stone Fall Farm (donated 125 egg cartons).
Launched by several local organizations, including the VisitLEX CVB, famed racetrack Keeneland Racecourse, and non-profit community kitchen FoodChain, the Nourish Lexington program addresses the growing need for ready-to-eat meals due to exponentially rising unemployment numbers while also leveraging available kitchen facilities and the food service expertise of out-of-work restaurant workers, allowing the community to contribute where their skills are needed. Additional details, including information about how to apply to work a shift, receive a meal or donate product or kitchen space to Nourish Lexington, is available here: www.nourishlexington.org.