LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) - Cleveland’s restaurant scene is world-renowned and competitive, but business owners are putting that aside to help bring attention to hunger.
Nov. 10 is the first ever ‘End Hunger in Lakewood’ campaign.
More than 30 restaurants are vowing to donate 10 percents of their food sales to the Lakewood Community Services Center which serves Lakewood, Rocky River and Westlake. Here’s a compete list of participating locations.
The center has a food pantry and provides homeless prevention, mental health and job training services with assistance from partner agencies.
Executive Director Trish Rooney said the food pantry saw a sharp increase in usage during the recession and numbers remain high.
“Right now, we're serving about 1,900 to 2,200 people a month,” Rooney said. “That’s just the Lakewood numbers I'm talking about. We moved to this building which is five times bigger than the place we were at. There was a concern that we would never fill it, and as you can see, we're kind of bursting at the seams.”
As crates filled with milk, canned goods and other staples go out the door the rush to replenish doesn’t stop. The center relies on donations and partnerships to stock its shelves. Rooney said they receive no funding from the county.
To get more help for the center, Rooney reached out to Matt Fish. Fish is the owner of Melt Bar and Grilled. Rooney, a fan of the Food Network, was inspired by an end hunger campaign celebrity chefs champion. She thought a version of it would help raise awareness and money here in Northeast Ohio.
Fish didn’t hesitate to lend his support. The Lakewood native was shocked to hear how about how many people in his community use the center and worry about where their next meal is coming from.
“You know your neighbors. You know the people walking up and down the street every and this affects 13 to 14 percent or more of the population of Lakewood which really blew my mind,” Fish said. “Lakewood's my home. It's my hometown. It’s where I started my first restaurant, so I felt I had to spearhead this movement. This is the community that helps us pay our bills on a daily basis, so let’s give back to the people that can’t come out and visit us all the time.”
Fish said he’s grateful for the generosity and support from other restaurants and businesses who’ve signed up to support the campaign.
Rooney is thankful too.
“People need us. We’re here to take care of people,” Rooney said. “We try and create an environment here that everyone’s welcome. There’s no judgement.”