News and Updates from Harvard Square
Thank you Frontline Workers and
City of Cambridge Leaders
You make us proud!
As we grapple with the pace in which things are changing and comply with the Governor’s
stay-at-home advisory and closure of non-essential businesses through May 4
, we affirm our commitment to our business district, our community and all our residents be they essential employees hard at work, at home, in shelters or unsheltered.
It is in that light that we send heartfelt thanks to our doctors, nurses, police, fire, EMT's, postal workers, grocers, delivery drivers and all those on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, we thank City of Cambridge political and civic leaders for their fast action in helping to feed the most vulnerable in our city - our homeless men and women.
On Thursday, March 19
, Matt Nelson from City Manager Lou DePasquale’s office reached out to ask for help coordinating a program whereby the city would purchase food from local restaurants to be delivered to shelters throughout the city. We were honored to lead this effort in Harvard Square; within two days, 15 eateries were signed up to provide over 700 meals to 5 organizations for 7 days beginning with breakfast the following Monday morning, March 23rd.
There are so many positives to this program: the hungry are being fed, restaurants have orders to fill, workers are earning a wage and shelter volunteers are breathing sighs of relief. Volunteers who have been preparing meals in various shelter kitchens are adhering to the no-gathering order. They shared their concerns over the dilemma of feeding a population in need. Because of this program, their concerns have been allayed; the homeless are being fed and the city will continue this effort through the crisis.
Unprompted, Cambridge Savings Bank President and CEO, Wayne Patenaude, reached out to ask how CSB could help. We asked if they would provide water and soft drinks to accompany the 700 meals. CSB staff immediately purchased and delivered beverages to the programs. Mr. Patenaude's quick action and generous contributions were so gratefully received.
After the first week, we reached out to the Harvard Square shelters and restaurants which included Zinneken’s, Chutneys, Otto Pizza, Black Sheep Bagel Café, Subway - Harvard Square, Pinocchio’s Pizza & Subs, Orinoco Kitchen, Veggie Grill - Harvard Square, Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe, Bon Me, Tanjore, Broadway Marketplace, El Jefe Taqueria, Ole Mexican Grill and Nirvana, Taste of India to debrief on the deliveries of both the food and beverages. Here is what they had to say:
“First Church Shelter is extremely grateful to participate in and benefit from this partnership. The food has been great and the help it has provided could not have arrived at a more opportune moment.”
Jim Stewart, First Church Shelter
“We at the Harvard Square Churches Meal Program would like to again thank the four restaurants that served our guests last Thursday night...Cardullo's, Orinoco Kitchen, Otto's, and Veggie Grill...as well the delivery driver who presented us with several cases of water and soda. Having served a meal every Thursday night at Christ Church since 1982, we have never had our meal catered by the chefs in Harvard Square before.
We, as well as all our guests, were delighted with the variety of choices, the freshness of the meals and the selfless service of the four restaurants. During this unusual and trying time, to find community within our community is powerful. We definitely are the ones who care about our city and its peoples.
Judy Siemen, Christ Church (Thursday Meals, Christ Church)
“Thanks so much for all you did to make this happen! On Sunday afternoon, the Outdoor Church's team delivered the 150 meals we received to homeless men and women around Harvard and Central Squares. With most of the places they would normally go to for food shut down, everyone we met was far hungrier than usual. Folks were grateful to receive such substantial (and delicious) meals. It's not every Sunday that we get to serve taco bowls, curried vegetables and individually boxed pizzas! Thank you for making it possible for us to serve the most vulnerable among us in a moment of great need.”
Tom Hathaway, Outdoor Church
“The Friday Café was delighted to receive our first 100 prepackaged meals on March 20, featuring some of Harvard Square’s best fare: pizza from Pinocchio’s, Mexican chicken plates from El Jefe, Tikka Masala from Tanjore and sandwiches from Broadway Market—plus much needed bottled water and sodas from Cambridge Savings Bank. For many of our guests, this was their first food of the day and they were delighted and very appreciative. Thanks so much to organizers and participants for this very successful program!”
Kate Layzer, First Church/Friday Cafe
“Since Y2Y Harvard Square is an entirely student-run shelter, it was a difficult transition for our staff to have to move out of dorms while also working to reshape shelter policies and operations in light of the pandemic. However, this program meant that food was one less piece we would have to worry about. Everything was quite seamless, from the initial communication to the actual deliveries each day, and we’re incredibly grateful to all of the people involved in making this possible. Our staff has worked hard to fight to keep Y2Y open, and it’s amazing that we’re able to continue providing a variety of meals for our guests due to this program.”
“First and foremost, we want to thank the City of Cambridge and the HSBA for asking OTTO to participate in the shelter meals program last week. OTTO is very proud that we were able to provide individual boxed pizza meals to the Y2Y and Christ Church community. We received many thank you notes from both of the organizations, as well as from the members of the community who enjoyed the pizzas. Many people came by the store personally to say thank you - that meant a lot! Programs like this help us weather the crisis and keep our staff paid while providing nourishment and comfort to the homeless community during this trying time. Thank you everyone involved! We are looking forward to continuing our participation in this wonderful program and to continue providing hot meals to the members of the community.”
Erik Maas, OTTO
“We at Orinoco are most grateful for the opportunity to do our part in facilitating this wonderful initiative whose goal of helping those in need at the time of this national crisis is of such consequence and importance in so many ways. The City of Cambridge is looking out for the most vulnerable amongst us and by doing so has made better citizens of us all. We at Orinoco look forward to continuing helping those in need.”
Martha Garcia, Orinoco
We had wonderful experiences at both shelter locations! We were greeted so warmly by the dedicated volunteers, they made drop off so easy. The best part for us was meeting and re-connecting with the community of long standing Cardullo's loyalists. We were honored to be a part of the program.”
Kim Wilson, Cardullo’s
“Bon Me is extremely grateful to the HSBA for connecting us with the City of Cambridge to make meals for the area's homeless shelters. We've enjoyed participating in this program and supporting some of the local efforts throughout our communities to help those most in need.”
Laura Flagg, BonMe
“This is a challenging time for all of us. Our business is already being greatly impacted with loss of sales as guests choose to work from home and cutting down on deliveries. We believe that this impact will be felt for quite some time and we must be prepared to deal with it. It was our pleasure to serve 100% plant-based food to our community. We are very pleased to be part of the meal program and appreciative of the opportunity at this difficult time.”
KC Brijesh, Veggie Grill
“You guys are doing an incredible job of protecting the most vulnerable ones in this pandemic situation. Thank you for reaching out to us. We were glad that we could help in this time of crisis. We care about our community and we together will get through this.”
Subin Dheke, Tanjore