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Community collaborations: Three restaurants step up to raise money for local organizations

Executive chef Tristin Rogers of Hollow Spirits Distillery. (Courtesy of Tristin Rogers)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Three local restaurants have partnered with community organizations for one delicious event.

Eat Out to Lift Up! on Sunday, Oct. 4, was created to support small business and groups that work in the space of food security.

Chef Dominic Valenzuela, owner of Tako Ten, has partnered with St. Felix Pantry.

Chef Josh Kennon, owner of Fork & Fig and the Jealous Fork will team up with Broken Trail Spirits + Brew to partner with Meals on Wheels Albuquerque.

Hollow Spirits executive chef Chef Tristin Rogers has partnered with The Storehouse.

United Way of Central New Mexico will provide fiscal and administrative support. Its program Mission: Families will be a beneficiary.

Eventgoers can choose to pick up elevated picnic meals or dine-in during three time slots: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 3 to 5 p.m., or 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets for the take-out menu option are $35 per person and dine-in is $75 per person. The dine-in menu includes a starter as well as a specialty cocktail. The all-access pass allows people to dine-in at Fork & Fig/Broken Trail and Hollow Spirits for $200 per person. The restaurant that does the most sales that day wins bragging rights.

Dara Romero, who is part of Macy’s My Stylist program, came up with the event idea to help community groups and draw business to small local restaurants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“(I) saw what was happening in the community was impacting small business,” Romero said. “The nonprofits partners I knew had been seeing so many more individuals and families. I proposed and said, ‘Why don’t we do something that is different, that would work in this day and age to really support this work that the nonprofits are doing but also support the businesses that are involved?’ ”

Chef Dominic Valenzuela, co-owner of Tako Ten. (Courtesy of Dominic Valenzuela)

Meals on Wheels Albuquerque is putting proceeds it receives toward its Life Program, which is a grant-based, low-income food enrichment for people who can’t afford their meals based off federal poverty guidelines. The organization provides meals to people who cannot cook for themselves due to major medical issues or other factors. Meals on Wheels offers eight different diets depending on medical need and delivers hot meals to about 600 clients per day, Monday through Friday, according to Shauna M. Frost, executive director of Meals on Wheels Albuquerque. Its partnership with the Albuquerque Journal allows Meals on Wheels to provide clients with a daily newspaper. The group also offers pet food, veterinarian care, mobile grooming and dog walking for clients’ pets. It recently partnered with Watermelon Mountain Ranch animal rescue, to offer mobile adoption for clients interested in an animal companion.

Meal deliverers also conduct wellness checks on clients.

Chef Josh Kennon, owner of Fork & Fig and The Jealous Fork. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

“It’s a wellness check to make sure that person is answering the door and they’re coherent and they’re safe and then they report back on the condition of the client,” Frost said. “I can’t tell you how many people we’ve found people on the floor with heart attacks or broken hips or broken arms.”

St. Felix Pantry serves as a neighborhood grocery store at no cost to people in need. The pantry, which has been in operation since 1992, has developed relationships with farmers and organizations like Seeds to Need to provide fresh produce to its clients including green chile.

“It brings me close to tears to see the excitement that we can bring them fresh chile that they wouldn’t be able to have,” said Rachael Miletkov, director of development at St. Felix Pantry. “It’s such a New Mexican tradition that we can allow them to experience and continue in their home because of the partnerships we have with local grocers and farms and community members, especially because we’re serving families.”

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