April 1, 2020 | by Lisa Mattson

The demand for prepared meals is at an all-time high due to the Coronavirus pandemic. That’s why Sonoma Family Meal, a disaster-focused non-profit created two years ago to feed wildfire victims in Sonoma County, launched a Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund last week—a new initiative to pay local restaurants to provide healthy, chef-made meals to those in desperate need of food right now. John Jordan and the John Jordan Foundation made a $150,000 investment in the fund to help get the program off the ground. You can support this cause with the Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund Match Drive. The goal is to raise $300,000.

There are many chef-backed Coronavirus charities that are worthy causes—some chefs are feeding laid-off restaurant workers and others are setting up donation funds for their own employees–but John Jordan was particularly moved by this project after receiving an email from Heather Irwin, the founder of Sonoma Family Meal. The idea of a charity paying restaurants to cook is very new and smart–three of these coronavirus charities providing financial income have emerged in the last week in Northern California. John wanted to do something significant to support a program that helps the restaurant community, farmers, the economy and families in need—at the same time. His $150,000 investment is not contingent on reaching the match drive goal and is in addition to all of the existing John Jordan Foundation charitable programs in place.

Here’s what Sonoma Family Meal will be able to do if they reach their goal of $300,000 to fully fund this program:

  • Pay at least 20 restaurants and caterers to stay open as disaster relief kitchens
  • Put at least 100 Sonoma County restaurant workers back on payroll
  • Provide 100,000 meals for thousands of seniors and families facing food scarcity
  • Sustain this operation for four months

The $150,000 investment from John and his foundation will allow SFM to keep the doors open at least 12 struggling restaurants and caterers throughout the county currently providing meals, purchase 42,000 to-go containers (compostable or reusable) and provide 65,000 meals.

According to Heather, the idea for the Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund was born from the work with chef Kyle Connaughton of SingleThread Farms in Healdsburg, the Michelin-starred restaurant that piloted the Sonoma Family Meal program in mid-March and has been cooking 200 meals a day since then, each meant to feed four people. SingleThread began raising money from investors, wineries, and restaurant guests to fund their production of donation meals for Sonoma Family Meal. SingleThread and two other Healdsburg restaurants—Mateo’s Cocina Latina and PizZando—are continuing to cook meals for Sonoma Family Meal and are raising money through their own network of donors to fund their operations. Guests who order takeout from SingleThread through Tock also have the option to donate meals to their Sonoma Family Meal program.

Sonoma County has been through a lot as a community the past several years (from fires to floods), and now the entire world is struggling with this invisible enemy. We invite you to donate whatever you can to this cause and share with your friends who have enjoyed meals at  Sonoma County restaurants. We’re in this together.

Learn more about donating to the fund.