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Underground Kitchen delivers more than 10,000 meals in two months

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Posted at 5:54 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 17:56:05-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 10,000 meals have been delivered to people throughout the metro Richmond area in less than two months thanks to the Underground Kitchen Community First Project.

The Community First Project, formed by Michael Sparks and Kate Houck in March, primarily delivers meals to those who are food insecure or whose jobs put them at high risk of exposure during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We saw an immediate need in our community created by the crisis – both for healthy meals to be delivered to those in need, as well as for those in the food industry to have access to work in a safe environment to support their families,” Houck said.

The first 175 meals were delivered to individuals impacted by the crisis and front-line health workers in the community the week of March 23, 2020. By May 11, 2020 that number had increased to 2,000 meals for the week, distributed to food insecure communities, those who are home-bound or quarantined, front-line health workers, first responders, families and care-givers and others throughout Richmond.

UGK Community First has since scaled up its response with help from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia member churches in metro Richmond. The food relief operation currently has nine chefs and two bakers working in church kitchens to produce homemade soup and bread, soon to include family-style pot pies, pastas, and casserole dishes to help sustain families for several days.

“We are conscious of the continued impact of COVD-19 and are committed to doing what we can to address the need for meals in the community for the duration of its influence,” Houck said. “However, we have also seen that, regardless of the agencies that already exist in the region, there continues to be a deep need for healthy, unprocessed, consistently delivered meals even in the best of times. Therefore, we see UGK Community First continuing long after this crisis passes, with a focus on distributing meals to families and children who live in a constant food insecure environment, as well as supplementing other programs who are doing the same,” she adds.

UGK Community First has also supplied meals to St. Mary’s Hospital, Memorial Regional Medical Center, Richmond Community Hospital (all part of Bon Secours), McGuire VA Medical Center, Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Richmond, Richmond Ambulance Authority, and The Doorways.