Every week for the past 15 years, the local food kitchen Tuesday’s Table has cooked, served and delivered hot meals for low-income and shut-in residents of Greene County.
However, when the COVID-19 crisis hit in mid-March and social distancing guidelines were put in place, the program’s leaders weren’t sure how—or if—they could continue.
Tuesday’s Table is operated out of the Stanardsville United Methodist Church in the Town of Stanardsville and is supported by four other Greene County churches.
“The way we’ve always done it is that we’re in the kitchen or the social hall with six to eight people standing elbow to elbow putting meals together and serving our patrons buffet-style,” says long-time volunteer Carroll Deane. “Obviously, we couldn’t do that and stay within the new guidelines.”
So, Deane called his friend Shawn Hayes, the chef/owner of the Blue Ridge Café in Ruckersville, and asked if he and his staff could help by cooking the meals and packaging them for pick-up and door-to-door delivery.
The restaurant, which is celebrating its 25th year in business, has remained open by calibrating its service model and menu to provide more family-style, takeaway meals.
Hayes immediately agreed to help, but he also volunteered to help collect donations so the program could feed even more.
“With the closing of our dining room and our frequent interactions with people coming to buy takeaway meals, we understood very early on that people were already struggling in our community with job loss and isolation and that it would soon translate to a lot more food insecurity and hunger,” Hayes said. “When Tuesday’s Table approached me, I felt like it was a Godsend because now we had a partner who could direct our charitable efforts to the people who were most in need and who we otherwise might not know about.”
Hayes calculated that a $3 contribution would cover the food costs of a hot, hearty and healthy meal for a hungry Greene County resident.
To collect donations, he added a button to the restaurant’s online ordering site, set up a donation bucket at takeaway stations and put out the word on his social media sites. He also started a Facebook GoFundMe page for the project.
The community response has been overwhelming and heartening, he said.
“We had a customer who pulled in one day and didn’t order anything for himself but gave us $90 for our Feed the Hungry Program,” Hayes says. “Another person added a $50 donation to their online order, and another lady came in yesterday and gave us a check for $50. People just really want to help—and they have been amazingly generous.”
Since late March, Tuesday’s Table, with the support of the Blue Ridge Café, has been handing out and delivering 200 meals a week.
As demand for help grows among those who are struggling economically and the word spreads to those in need, Tuesday’s Table coordinator Pat Glassmyer expects that the number of needed meals will grow significantly.
“We want to be there for our community,” Glassmyer said.
For information on Tuesday’s Table, call the church at (434) 985-3888. To make a donation, visit the Blue Ridge Café Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/Blueridgecafeandcatering or the website at www.blueridgecafe.com or stop by the restaurant.