Charleston restaurants ‘Pay it Forward’

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – An initiative started by local restaurant owner Michael Shemtov, and his team at Butcher and Bee is working to support two vital sectors of our local economy: agriculture and hospitality. The closure of many local restaurants has left purveyors with a surplus of perishable goods, like produce and eggs, and food and beverage workers out of a job.

‘Pay it Forward Charleston’ purchases discounted staples from local suppliers and provides food and beverage workers in need a weekly bag of fresh items at no cost. Through a partnership with Feed the Need Charleston, they have created a “loop where businesses and individuals who want to help, channel funds through Feed the need Charleston,” which provides those funds to farmers “who then provide…restaurant partners deeply discounted items to donate to F&B workers.”

In less than a month, they have distributed over 1,500 bags of produce and raised over $40,000. They say that they expect to distribute around 1,000 bags every week from now on.

Many Charleston restaurants are participating in the cause; more distribution areas = more room for social distancing, more purveyors funded, and more F&B workers fed. They say that efficiency is key to the process. “Diffused distribution systems” are set up at Butcher & Bee, Taco Boy, Cru Catering, FIG, Delaney Oyster House, Frothy Beard Brewing, and Mercantile and Mash. Each location sources staples from their own purveyors, and each location gives out 50 bags per day to prevent overcrowding.

To keep the initiative going, they rely heavily on community support. Several local businesses have chipped in, and they are encouraging more to join. But they still need the community’s help to “keep the momentum going.”

Pay it Forward Charleston provided a list of ways to get involved:

  • Donate a $10 bag to Pay it Forward Charleston. (click here)
  • We invite businesses large and small, especially those seeing higher sales due to this crisis, to join the effort. (click here)
    • Businesses that have committed a percentage of sales to this effort: Red Clay Hot Sauce, artist Sam Sidney, Off Track Ice Cream, photographer Andrew Cebulka, UVA imports (Bottles), Charlestowne Fermentory, Madam Magar, Frothy Beard Brewing Company, Grassroots Wine.
  • 3.) Purveyors interested in getting involved should contact us at: jkleiger@butcherandbee.com

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