Restaurant Gives Away 7,000 Meals in 100 Days

One of the most significant concerns through the COVID-19 pandemic has been food insecurity. Many food pantries closed down, getting to the store became harder. There is an increased need for assistance, and yet there are fewer volunteers to help people get food because of their fears of becoming ill.

A bar owner in New Jersey stepped up to try and help his community. Michael Soll, owner of RiverPark Pub in Gloucester, posted a message on Facebook, urging anyone who needed help to reach out.

I just thought about [seniors], maybe they need the help,” Mr. Soll said. Since then, he and a team of volunteers have been donating meals to people in need.

On average, they hand out about 75 meals a day. While he has received some donations, he has been supporting the venture mostly out of his own pocket. “Is my landlord calling me for rent? Yeah, he is. That’s scary, that’s really scary,” said Mr. Soll. But he has continued his work.

He brings meals to people who need help in his community. One senior citizen at a community center said, “It’s been a godsend, it’s really great that he comes in here every single day, without fail.”

Usually, people are most interested in the beer at his pub. Things are different now, when people are afraid to leave their homes, and most would have no interest in venturing into a bar. “Now we have these people, it’s not about a beer, it’s about survival. If we don’t bring them food... they’re afraid to go out,” Mr. Soll said. He decided to help on St. Patrick’s Day when the bar was empty even though it’s usually a busy day of the year for the business.

The restaurant is still offering takeout to diners willing to pay, which helps keep things going. He is committed to continuing to make free meals as long as he can do so.

I’ve been broke before,” he said when asked if he was worried about his business’s future. He also said, “We’ve become more of a charity organization than a business.”

This week the bar marked 100 days of free food and have provided more than 7,000 free meals. Mr. Soll has a 99-year-old grandmother, and he worried about older people, like her, who might be suffering.

I’m fortunate enough that my grandmother was okay. And we have a lot of seniors around here that I thought maybe they’re not provided for,” Mr. Soll said.

In addition to meals, his volunteers have also brought groceries, toiletries and medication to people’s homes.

Banner Image Source: RiverPark Pub’s Facebook page.
June 26, 2020
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