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Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization and Cudell Improvement team up to aid local businesses providing free meals to residents

Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization and Cudell Improvement team up to aid local businesses providing free meals to residents

by Colin Murnan 

(Plain Press, July 2020)    The Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization and Cudell Improvement Inc. have teamed up to help their local neighborhoods in a time when it is needed. The organizations started compensating small businesses on June 8 by providing 7,200 free meals to the Detroit Shoreway, Cudell, and Edgewater residents over an eight-week period at six locations. This program is a response to the closings caused by COVID-19, and the goal is to keep these local businesses stable, their employees working, and their customers fed. The Cleveland Foundation funded the program with $56,000 through the Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. 

   The meals will be distributed Monday through Friday. Each day 150 meals are distributed on a first come first served basis at a different local business. A couple of these businesses have been providing free meals even before the organizations and funding came through. 

   Tom Owen of Banter Beer and Wine, the program’s Monday setting for free meals, said that the restaurant started giving out hot dogs during the first week of the pandemic, when everything first shut down. The hot dogs kept customers attracted to their restaurant, keeping eyes on their menu while also providing a service to the community. The new June 8 program has been effective as well, and Owen said they went through the free meals that first Monday very quickly, distributing most of the meals within the first hour. The meals are prepared, packed up and ready to go for customers to take. 

   Gypsy Beans and Baking Co., the Thursday setting for free meals, also started giving out free meals early on, all the while adhering to safety standards. 

   Josh Jones, Marketing Director of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, also talked about the high demand during the first week of the free meals program, saying that all six days of the program meals ran out.  

   Along with free meals, the Kids’ Book Bank Cleveland donated 300 children’s books to be passed out at the Good Earth Farm Stand on Wednesdays, and Tuesdays at Dudley Triangle pocket park. 

   Jones used social media, emails, and postcards sent to residents of the community to notify people about the program. He talked about the struggle of notifying those in the neighborhood who did not have internet access, so they focused on a “print and word-of-mouth marketing.” The strategy seems to have worked, as proven by the long lines meandering out of these businesses. 

   The program also purposely targeted a variety of businesses in lower income neighborhoods as well as higher income neighborhoods, and also sought to find female-owned and minority-owned businesses first to be a part of their program, as a part of their long-term goal to seek social justice. 

   Below is the program’s schedule, first documented on their press release. 

  • Mondays: Banter Beer & Wine (7320 Detroit Avenue) with free coffee donated by Ready Set! Coffee Roasters
  • Tuesdays: Dudley Triangle pocket park (W 73rd St & Dudley Ave) with meals provided by Rincon Criollo, free coffee donated by Ready Set! Coffee Roasters, and free books donated by Kids’ Book Bank Cleveland
  • Wednesdays: Good Earth Farm Stand (9600 Madison Avenue) with meals provided by Pulp Juice and Smoothie Bar and free books donated by Kids’ Book Bank Cleveland
  • Thursdays: Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. (6425 Detroit Avenue)
  • Fridays: Frank’s Falafel House (1823 West 65th Street)
  • Saturdays: Ninja City Kitchen and Bar (6706 Detroit Avenue)
PHOTO BY COLIN MURNAN Wednesday, June 17, 2020; Good Earth Farm Stand, 9600 Madison Avenue: Cherie’ Billingsley-Ballard helps give out free books with Christopher Brown at Ohio City’s Good Earth Farm Stand (9600 Madison Avenue). Christopher Brown is the Safety and Communication Outreach Coordinator for Detroit Shoreway Community Organization. Billingslye-Ballard helps pick out age appropriate books for children attending the Wednesday free meal event sponsored by Cudell Improvement and Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. Each Wednesday 150 free meals prepared by Pulp Juice and Smoothie Bar are passed out on a first come, first served basis.
PHOTO BY COLIN MURNAN Monday, June 15, 2020; Banter Beer and Wine, 7320 Detroit Avenue: Tom Owen, a partner at Banter Beer and Wine provides free lunches every Monday to Ohio City residents. The restaurant started giving out free hot dogs when things first shut down during the pandemic. During this time, some of the regular customers donated money to help with business. Later, Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization and Cudell Improvement Inc. donated money to help some of Ohio City’s local businesses. According to Detroit Shoreway’s press release, “The two organizations are arranging this urgent response to COVID-19 to provide financial stability to locally owned businesses and high-quality meals to residents of all ages. The Cleveland Foundation has generously funded this program with $56,000 through the Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.” Owen said they give out 150 lunches on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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