By IMELDA RICHARD, Special to the Bulletin | Published May 14, 2020 | En Español
ATLANTA—As restaurants started to close their doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people lost income, compromising their ability to feed themselves and their families. Recognizing this crisis, Isabel Rice and Lisa Blanco, parishioners of the Cathedral of Christ the King, started The Compassion Kitchen Project.
“So many of us felt heartbroken and helpless as we read about the illness, loss of life, economic hardship and other struggles in our community,” said Blanco. “People wanted to cook meals and serve food to those in crisis, but because of COVID-19 we had to think of new and innovative ways to help.”
“Like many others during this crisis, we were looking for ways to serve. This pandemic has changed the way we think about doing most everything, including volunteering.We wanted to create a solution that would simplify the process and magnify the impact,”added Rice.
Both women are no strangers to putting their faith in action. Lisa Blanco is the co-founder of CKS Serves, the family service program at Christ the King School.Isabel Rice, together with her husband Gene, have been successfully leading the Adopt-A-Family program at the Cathedral for over 10 years in the Christmas season.
The Compassion Kitchen Project uses donations to pay restaurants to make meals for nonprofits and those suffering from food insecurity, providing both income for restaurant employees and much-needed support for nonprofits that serve the homeless and others in crisis. Some of the nonprofits that are currently being served by this project are Catholic Charities Atlanta, Nicholas House, City of Refuge, CHRIS180, Saint Mary’s Independent Living Extensions (SMILE) and Mercy Community Church. Individuals being served by The Compassion Kitchen Project include multi-generational families, veterans, the homeless, disabled adults, foster families, immigrants and refugees.
Partner restaurants must provide nutritious meals for less than $10 per meal. Participating restaurants include Local Three, Galla’s, Little Rey, Gunshow, Revival, Verde Taqueria, The Companion, Bocado, The Big Ketch and Bold Monk Brewing Co. among others. The Cathedral of Christ the King and the Knights of Columbus Atlanta Council 660 in association with their charity—the Atlanta CBA Endowment—partner to support the The Compassion Kitchen Project.
Within a week of launching, The Compassion Kitchen Project raised more than $30,000.
“Word spread quickly, and so many people wanted to contribute,” Rice said. “It has been very moving to see people mobilize to help both restaurant workers and the nonprofits in our community.”
In its first week of service, The Compassion Kitchen Project provided over 1,250 meals to individuals in need in week one, almost 2,000 meals in week two and is currently working towards increasing the numbers of meals they serve.
Blanco and Rice plan on operating for as long as there is a need and they have the funds to support the project. They are very encouraged by the generous donations and partnerships thus far.
The Compassion Kitchen Project also delivers “Compassion To-Go” bags directly to people living in transient housing and cars. The bags contain a piece of fruit, water and other shelf stable food items. People are encouraged to recycle bags already in their homes for use if interested in volunteering to assemble and drop off bags.
To learn more about the project and locations to drop off Compassion To-Go bags, please visit the website: cathedralctk.com/compassion-kitchen/.