“Need a boost? It’s on us.”
That’s the message one Corvallis-based project is sending with its crowd-funded effort to feed people in need during the coronavirus pandemic. It's On Us (IOU) Corvallis uses money from donors on the GoFundMe website to fund meals from local restaurants.
“It’s great for businesses to get the word out there and for the community to come together,” said Corvallis mom Kristy Nason. “It’s phenomenal.”
Nason visited Delicias Valley Cafe on Circle Boulevard for IOU Corvallis' Friday community meal. She was able to pick up enough tacos and burritos to feed herself and three others back home.
The money donated to the Mexican restaurant by IOU Corvallis — upwards of $1,000 — plus takeout orders kept Lupe Gutierrez’s business “steady all day.” Over 100 meals she handed to customers were already paid for.
Elizabeth Jones, part of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s food action team, developed the concept of IOU Corvallis in late March with two colleagues, Ashley Relf and Aliza Tuttle.
“We started brainstorming about how we could help people who are in need who might need a little boost and who are struggling, either because they are recently unemployed or because they are working in essential services,” Jones said. “We wanted to figure out how to help them because we’re also interested in restaurants and local businesses and helping their bottom lines.”
So, during the week, IOU pays restaurants to prep meals for hospital workers, first responders, shelters and the like. During the last two weeks, IOU would choose a mid-valley workplace, contact a restaurant that can make meals for all its staff, pay for them, then make deliveries.
So far, recipients have included staff at Lumina Hospice, Edward C. Allworth Veterans' Home, Stoneybrook Assisted Living, The Caring Place, Timberhill Place, Corvallis Manor, the Corvallis Post Office, Oregon State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, the Willamette Valley Toxicology Lab, the Benton County Health Department and Room at the Inn.
Then, on Fridays, IOU donates to a local restaurant to provide food to the public. “Whether you’re exhausted from a long shift or trying to feed your family if you’re in a pinch,” Jones said, anyone can get a hot meal to go if they need one.
Last week, New Morning Bakery catered the public’s takeout orders. This Friday was Delicias, and next Friday will be Bodhi Artisan Bakery.
The group had raised more than $6,000 as of Friday evening from over 80 donors. All the money is going toward paying the restaurants, not only to help them keep employees on the payroll, but to make sure as many people can be fed as possible.
“It’s really restored our faith in many things, and especially the community,” Jones said. “It‘s been very rewarding, and people have been incredibly appreciative.”