This story first appeared in Globe Rhode Island’s Food & Dining newsletter, a free weekly email about Rhode Island’s restaurant industry that also contains information about local events, Q&As with chefs, dining guides, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail each Thursday, you can sign up here.
Soaring food prices are burdening families everywhere. But in Rhode Island, nearly one in three households cannot afford adequate food. The risk of hunger is even higher for communities of color and low-income families with children.
Many in the food and restaurant industry in Rhode Island are experiencing struggles of their own, trying to keep their businesses and households afloat as inflation swallows their bottom lines. And yet, several chefs and owners are finding ways to give back this year.
Here are a few that stand out this holiday season.
Shady Lane Granola, Barrington: Virginia McQueen started Shady Lane Granola in 2017, looking to make granola that was both all natural and delicious. Around the same time, she started volunteering at Good Neighbors, a soup kitchen, food pantry, and day shelter in Riverside. There, she was cooking breakfast once a week for the patrons — many of whom were homeless. Shady Lane is now regularly donated to Good Neighbor, where McQueen is now a board member, and to the Bristol Warren Regional School’s Backpack Program. shadylanefoods.com.
Bywater, Warren: Katie Dickson, the owner of Bywater, donates a portion of revenue every month to places like the Native American Rights Fund, Moms Demand Action, Black Lives Matter, and World Central Kitchen. Each of these organizations, she said, help “offset some of the negative trends in the industry” while also acknowledging the inadvertent harm done to the planet and “what we owe to each other on a daily basis.” Outside of these donations, Dickson said Bywater sources locally or from independent purveyors, including in their wine and beverage program, as much as possible, to help offset their impact to the planet. 3129 54 State St., Warren, 401-694-0727.
Giusto, Newport: For the third year at Giusto, owner and chef Kevin O’Donnell is bringing back the “Buy One, Give One Lasagna” promotion for the holidays. Your choice of meat bolognese or mushroom ragu lasagnas ($75) are ready to bake and serves six to eight people. For each lasagna purchased, Giusto will donate one to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center in Newport. Call the restaurant 24 hours in advance to place an order. O’Donnell will partner with Plates with Purpose in January to provide meals to Lucy’s Hearth and the Women’s Resource Center. 4 Commercial Wharf, Newport, 401-324-7400.
Pizza Marvin, Providence: Robert Andreozzi and Jesse Hedberg, the co-owners of Pizza Marvin, are hosting a “12 Pies of Christmas” collaboration starting Dec. 7 for two weeks. They’ll be teaming up with 12 other Rhode Island restaurants who will cook a special pizza ($35 each) for one night only, and all of the proceeds will benefit Farm Fresh R.I. Last year, Andreozzi said they raised more than $9,000 to help Amos House, a nonprofit that provides services to homeless Rhode Islanders. 468 Wickenden St., Providence, 401-262-3336, pizzamarvin.com.
Harvest Kitchen, Pawtucket: A job training program for youth involved in the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families, Harvest Kitchen creates jarred products and has a café with fresh foods. Each purchase at the café supports their culinary training program for underserved teens. 2 Bayley St., Pawtucket, 401-335-3766.
Little Sister, Providence: Each Friday, Little Sister owner Milena Pagán hosts an invite-only tasting menu where proceeds go to benefit Hurricane Fiona relief efforts. In just eight dinners, they raised about $1,700 for recovery efforts. Sign up for their mailing list at the bottom of the homepage to get notifications. 737a Hope Street, Providence, 401-642-9464.
Newport Restaurant Group: This year, Newport Restaurant Group is donating $2 from every gift card order. Proceeds are divided evenly between RI Community Food Bank and Hope’s Harvest RI in Providence; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center and Aquidneck Community Table in Newport; Brookline Food Pantry in Brookline, Mass. and The Food Project in Lincoln, Mass. Multiple locations, newportrestaurantgroup.com.
Know of another great restaurant or food business in Rhode Island that’s working hard to give back? Let me know.
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