Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 4/5/20

Setting the Table to Feed, Nurture, and Support Atlanta’s Hospitality Industry.

Link to our full article on City Lifestyle as well: https://citylifestyle.com/atlanta-ga/articles/life-and-culture/rally-with-atlfamilymeal-?utm_source=Influencer&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=liz-and-john-attaway

Help. Support. Come together. Do good. These are not new concepts. As humans, in good times its harder to look past your own situation to see others in need, but in bad, it’s amazing how it brings us together and makes us stronger. With the onslaught of hospitality worker unemployment or under employment, a slew of non-profits and charities have popped up to answer the desperate call of the industry. We’re living in unprecedented times at the moment, and it’s all we can do is if we have the means to pitch in. They were there for us, giving us advice, cooking us delicious meals, and taking care of our every need, and now they need us! From charities that have always been doing good, like Giving Kitchen, to the growing list of newbies, #ATLFAMILYMEAL is answering the call to help feed your favorite bartender, sous chef, and everyone from the industry in need.

In a nutshell, #ATLFAMILYMEAL’s mission, “is to feed, nurture and support hospitality workers and their families experiencing hunger and joblessness in the metro Atlanta community.” They’ll leverage all of their industry knowledge, supply chain, and workers to coordinate, deliver, and feed Atlanta’s hospitality community. We took a moment to talk to Michael Lennox of Electric Hospitality, which Muchacho, Golden Eagle, and Lady Bird are a part of, about his #ATLFAMILYMEAL initiative and here’s the take-aways from that conversation.

Adventures in Atlanta: How did you come up with #ATLFamilyMeal? 

Michael Lennox: “#ATLFAMILYMEAL is the result of looking around and seeing the potential for almost every Atlanta-area restaurant and hospitality company closing their doors, leaving hundreds of thousands of hospitality workers without jobs. The majority of people in the hospitality community live paycheck-to-paycheck. If that means there are a ton of chefs and cooks out of work, we all still know how to cook, we all still have access to food, so the idea behind ATLFAMILYMEAL is that we can rally together as a hospitality community to raise money to help pay for food, staff to cook it, prepare meals for out of work hospitality workers and use technology to deliver it to their doorstep. After I started telling people about the idea, an inspiring and surreal amount of positive energy started bubbling to the surface, culminating with a lot of people wanting to do something but not having an outlet to get organized effectively en masse. We also recently filed for 501(c)(3) designation, so donations are tax deductible, and as we continue picking up speed with #ATLFAMILYMEAL, I think what we have now is a powerful channel for as many in the industry as possible to focus our energy and resources under one flag to feed as many hospitality workers as possible.”

Adventures in Atlanta: What’s the most important/one thing you want people to know about #ATLFamilyMeal?

Michael Lennox: “The most important thing to know about #ATLFAMILYMEAL is our ability to scale. We are working with some of the smartest minds and best resources across food and technology with the goal of ultimately helping hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed hospitality workers across the metro Atlanta area gain access to free meals each week. During this increasingly challenging time, we noticed that it had become difficult for those in the hospitality industry to consistently have access to meals, so we are grateful for the overwhelmingly positive response to our efforts. It’s going to take a united effort from the hospitality community to cast as wide of a net as is needed, so we are really banging the drum and inviting everyone into our tent.  We are excited to watch #ATLFAMILYMEAL grow as we move forward and build up our network.”

Adventures in Atlanta: Could you tell us a little bit more about how someone would apply/what’s the process for aid through #ATLFamilyMeal? Who qualifies?

Michael Lennox: “Currently, restaurant and hospitality businesses can apply through the Restaurant Signup page on atlfamilymeal.org. Once they have been onboarded into our system, our technology allows for a seamless collection of their employee contact information, so that we can begin delivering meals right to their doorsteps.

We’re also working closely with other businesses in our network and adding their employees to our system so they can start receiving free meals in the weeks ahead. Our goal is to eventually open sign-up directly to hospitality workers in the community, but in the meantime, we encourage hospitality workers in metro Atlanta to reach out to their employer and encourage them to apply to #ATLFAMILYMEAL.”

Adventures in Atlanta: Is there anything else you’d like to emphasize beyond what’s in the backgrounder or on the website? 

Michael Lennox: “We wanted to create an all-encompassing community for hospitality and restaurant workers, as well as business owners, to rely on for up-to-date information, relevant resources, food, and other essential supplies. While we are still in the early stages of implementation, we are confident that growing our community and contacts will lead to exponential growth, support, and impact.”

Adventures in Atlanta: What’s your plans for #ATLFAMILYMEAL beyond the COVID-19 crisis?

Michael Lennox: “#ATLFAMILYMEAL is a nonprofit created amid COVID-19, but our mission is much larger than the current crisis at hand. We plan for the tools, resources, and foundations we’ve developed to continue assisting hospitality workers in the future. Beyond this crisis, our purpose is to continue broadening our reach and offer a growing digital library of resources for the hospitality community. This will include everything from Georgia Restaurant Association-supplied advocacy and regulatory updates, to crowdsourced best practices surrounding things like banking and cash flow, to a variety of health and wellness resources, and more, so we can help hospitality businesses and workers get back to work. Last but not least, we see big opportunities to build on the momentum being generated right now to advocate for a stronger safety net for the hospitality community so we are better prepared if and when another pandemic or crisis occurs in the future.”

Adventures in Atlanta: Anything else you’d like to add? 

Michael Lennox: “Since launching #ATLFAMILYMEAL last week with the help of participating chefs and hospitality groups like Gina and Linton Hopkins, Electric Hospitality (Golden Eagle, Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall, Muchacho), King of Pops, Fox Bros., and more, we’ve delivered approximately 2,600 free meals to hospitality workers across Atlanta, and in the coming weeks, our goal is to exceed 100,000 meals per week. These deliveries are currently happening twice a week and we couldn’t be more proud of our diverse and elite leadership team from the hospitality industry, business, and nonprofit world here in Atlanta.  A $20 donation supplies 4 meals to a hospitality worker in need, and donations can be made on our website (atlfamilymeal.org), so we encourage anyone who is interested in learning more and donating to the cause to please check us out online and follow along on social media. In spite of this being a tragic moment for so many, we are inspired by the way that Atlanta has been rallying around this cause so far and are positive that we are going to get through this together.”

So, by using their network and resources, leveraging donations, they’ve created a place for anyone in the industry to find their next meal. Did you see their goal to send out exceed 100,000 meals a week? That’s amazing. We’re in! Are you ready to donate? Get involved? Find out more about #ATLFAMILYMEAL? Go to atlfamilymeal.org and start your journey!

Photos provided by Luke Beard via Blue Hominy PR.