Blog · May 11, 2021
Gourmondo Co, Farestart and Amazon Build Collaboration to Tackle Hunger Crisis
Together, Gourmondo Co’s Alissa Leinonen, FareStart’s Angela Dunleavy, and Amazon’s Alice Shobe have orchestrated a multifaceted operation providing over 500,000 emergency meals during the pandemic to people in need.
Three Seattle-based organizations—Gourmondo Co, FareStart, and Amazon—came together with a focus on developing a unique public, private, and nonprofit collaboration to address growing hunger needs and food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, this multifaceted collaboration has provided over 500,000 healthy meals to Seattle’s most vulnerable community members, including Seattle Public School K-12 children and families as well as food banks.
When the pandemic hit Washington state in early March 2020 and shelter-in-place orders were mandated, people lost their jobs, companies and schools closed their doors, and the demand for food skyrocketed as the economic fallout impacted families. Food production at FareStart, an acclaimed nonprofit recognized for helping people with barriers to employment get job training and placement in the food service industry, went from producing 2,500 meals per day to nearly 6,000 meals per day for children and neighbors in need. In October, when demand was at its highest, FareStart produced 16,000 meals per day.
As FareStart ramped up their meal production, Gourmondo Co, a Seattle food company known for its event catering, cafes, and gourmet boxed lunches, came to a grinding halt and lost more than 85 percent of their business within the first 48 hours of the start of the pandemic. Simultaneously, healthy meals for Seattle and King County's most vulnerable residents, including school children and teens, became a clear need. In King County, 34 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced cost meals, so when schools closed, these students were at risk of going hungry. Amazon, which already worked closely with both Gourmondo Co and FareStart, quickly met the moment by stepping up with financial support and enlisting FareStart and Gourmondo to do what they do best: large-scale, quality food production for maximum community impact.
“Over the course of the pandemic, the need for free food has nearly doubled in Washington State,” said Angela Dunleavy, CEO of FareStart. “When the pandemic first struck, we started talking to partners who might be willing to augment our emergency meals to help reduce food insecurity throughout the Seattle area. Amazon and Gourmondo Co stepped up right away to lend their support and resources. It’s really been a team effort as we’ve navigated the challenges of COVID together to help feed our communities.”
The visionary women behind the coalition include CEO and Founder of Gourmondo Co, Alissa Leinonen, CEO of FareStart, Angela Dunleavy, and Global Director of Amazon in the Community, Alice Shobe. These three leaders rallied to realign, pivot, and elevate their organization’s principal business objectives to collectively answer this urgent call to feed our neighbors.
“The past year has been incredibly difficult, but it has taught us the power of perseverance and humility—and the importance of community,” said Alissa Leinonen, Founder and CEO Gourmondo Co. “We are much stronger when we work together for the greater good and when we align ourselves with companies and individuals who are committed to meeting the moment in times of crisis. We are very proud and grateful to work alongside Amazon and FareStart during this uncertain time to help provide meals to those facing food insecurity. It is inspiring to work with such exceptional organizations to support our most vulnerable neighbors.”
FareStart and Gourmondo Co are working together in the production and delivery of 3,000 meals per day to school children in need as well as local area food banks. This is made possible due to the financial support and collaboration of Amazon.
“The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased the number of children, families, and seniors lacking adequate food,” said Alice Shobe, Global Director of Amazon in the Community. “The partnership among FareStart, Gourmondo Co., and Amazon combined the unique talents of all three partners to quickly and respectfully get food to those who need it most. Our collaboration also supported two community gems – a community-minded small business and an essential nonprofit organization.”
In addition to this community partnership and looking to the future, Gourmondo Co will continue to find new ways to collaborate and meet the challenges of food insecurity that the community faces. Giving back is and has always been an essential part of the Gourmondo Co business model and supporting local nonprofit is at the core of that work. Through Gourmondo Co’s Giving Box lineup of box lunches, a portion of the proceeds are donated to support local organizations including FareStart, Black Lives Matter, Childhaven, YouthCare, Big Table, and Treehouse. A new box lunch has been added to support FareStart and their great work. Details of the box here.