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Restaurant group creates jobs through community service

Erin Fortin Photography
Erin Fortin Photography

Toro Bravo Inc launches Feed It Forward PDX, a meal sponsorship program to aid those facing food insecurity.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 health crisis has created the need, now more than ever, for various industries to come together to share their resources with those in need. Toro Bravo Inc Restaurant Group based in Portland, OR  answered that call by launching a unique meal sponsorship program, Feed It Forward PDX. With access to kitchens and experience in food preparation and service, Toro Bravo Inc saw an opportunity to help those facing food insecurity — while also creating jobs to rehire employees they laid off due to Stay at Home orders.

“The nonprofit world is struggling disproportionately right now because they run on shoestring budgets,” Renee Gorham, co-owner of Toro Bravo Inc explains. “Nonprofits usually don’t have more than two or three months of funds available — so we are able to step in and take care of the food prep with proper safety regulations to help these nonprofits continue to provide food to those they serve.” With the nonprofits they’ve partnered with for years, Feed It Forward PDX supports these organizations’ efforts to provide meals to Portland’s homeless and vulnerable populations.

With Stay at Home orders forcing the postponement and cancelation of large events, nonprofits are struggling to raise money in a time that would usually be the fundraising season. “We can help by relieving them of the challenging food service piece which they would typically have to do,” says Gorham. Experiencing a loss of fundraising opportunities and volunteers, nonprofits are straining to provide all the important services they offer.

In addition to helping their nonprofit partners, Feed It Forward PDX offers sliding scale meals and free food bags to anyone in need. Through donations to the sliding scale, nonprofit and food bag programs from guests, the public, and purveyors, Toro Bravo Inc is able to continue the important work in their community and also rehire their team to oversee the success of Feed It Forward PDX.

“Our priority is to get as many of our team back to work and back on payroll,” Gorham expresses. “This program lets us bring our staff back to either prepare the meals or work on the operations team.” She continued to express that they’ve rehired 40 employees so far and reopened most of their restaurants including Toro Bravo, Tasty n Alder and Mediterranean Exploration Company for take out and delivery. She also emphasized the need for restaurants to show empathy toward their employees’ concerns during this health crisis — implementing rigorous safety precautions at every touchpoint of the business.

For Toro Bravo Inc, community advocacy has long been a core value of their company mission. Gorham expressed how important it is for businesses to consider community work during the COVID-19 crisis “First, it feels good to do good, and second, the true core values of every company will come out right now. This program allows our brand to shine and I hope when people can dine out again, they will remember who was there for their community and that they will come back and dine with us.” And so far the community support has been enough to help launch this program. “We have enough funding to kick it off. The hope is to get enough donations to keep the momentum going, keep it alive,” Gorham expressed.

Toro Bravo Inc Restaurant Group sets an example to restaurant groups around the nation. While it’s hard right now, there are some opportunities to give back to the community and create jobs— if you’d like to learn more or to make a donation, visit the Feed It Forward site here. Guests can add donations when ordering pick up or delivery by selecting which part of the program they want to sponsor from a menu.

Ashley McNally

Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.

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