A partnership formed to help Midland-area restaurants impacted by the pandemic and address food insecurity, is coming to a close on April 1. ReGrow Midland, created by the Midland Business Alliance and the Midland Area Community Foundation, was a short-term program designed to help local restaurants rebound from extended closures and restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic while providing low-cost, healthy meal options to the community.
“With all the uncertainty of the pandemic, our local restaurants needed support to stay open,” said Tony Stamas, MBA president and CEO. “ReGrow Midland has accomplished its goal to bridge the gap during closures with a reliable revenue stream that enabled restaurants to bring staff back to work and provided business support to help them keep their doors open.”
Funding for the 1-year project came was provided in partnership with the two organizations plus the Michigan Baseball Foundation, and contributions from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation and the Dow Company Foundation as well as private citizens and investors.
“As we shared when this program got underway, we recognize that one element of a thriving community is a vibrant economy, with restaurants being an important part of our local economy. We are so proud that ReGrow Midland supported our restaurants during this challenging time while providing meals for those in need,” said Sharon Mortensen, President and CEO of MACF. “It has truly been a community win-win.”
Each week since May 2021, distribution centers in Midland County received nutritious meals to offer to the public for a small monetary donation or at no cost. The meals incorporated sourcing fresh produce and meats from local farmers. To date, more than 30,000 meals have been distributed to those in need and restaurant partners were able to hire and/or retain 60 employees as well as invest over $76,000 back into their business.
“Involvement in the ReGrow Midland program was pivotal in our ability to continue operations during the pandemic,” said Kelly Osborn, Owner of The Menu Manager. “It also served as a platform to not only expand our services but to invest in a new Midland location as well.”