Two food pantries restocked weekly; 150 lunches delivered each week; 16,000 meals provided since March 2020. These impressive achievements are a result of two, community-dedicated initiatives dovetailing to safeguard intentional neighboring: Chubby’s Luncheonette/Aunt Chubby's of Hopewell restaurant and the hyperlocal nonprofit The Chubby’s Project.
Chubby's Project Founder and Co-Owner of the Aunt Chubby's Lyn Farrugia says the restaurant provides meals, buys food and packaging at cost, and supplies infrastructure and labor, while the Project pays the restaurant’s contribution using funds from grants and private donations.
"The Project was originally intended to use donations from Aunt Chubby’s Luncheonette to give back to the community. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Luncheonette distributed gift cards via the Hopewell Council of Churches, so those in need would be able to come in for a hot meal or some company," she explains. "When the shutdown happened in 2020 and restaurant profits were non-existent, there was a need to pivot and The Chubby’s Project Lunch Program was born."
Specifically, the Project's components enable hot meals and groceries to be delivered four days a week to neighbors in need. Volunteers deliver the food, assist with household tasks and errands, and provide friendly human connections.
"There are all different ways people come to need food. Most are working, many are convalescing after hospital stays and some are elderly. We think of the Chubby's Project as providing a safety net for body, mind and spirit, and for recognizing lonely neighbors who might need comfort and conversations along with a meal," says Lyn.
She says The Project also stocks two self-serve food pantries with nonperishable items provided by community members. The pantries are located on the restaurant's back patio. "We work with school and community groups to collect and sort donations, stock the pantries, and educate the public about food insecurity in Hopewell and beyond."
Huge gratitude also goes to gardeners of the Community Sharing Gardens At St. Michaels Farm Preserve, who've donated more than 1,900 pounds of fresh produce this year, says Lyn.
"We conduct events to help teach how to be observant and respectful from a young age, because it isn't always obvious to tell who's hungry," she adds.
Chubby's volunteer, from its inception, Cheryl Pothast says her passion is in helping others understand what hunger "looks like" in Hopewell. For the past two years, she's provided a hunger educational program with local fifth graders. "In our busy lives, many people are surprised to learn about how often someone needs food. Many of our elderly are isolated without routine support systems. We become their extended families, so to speak, and it's an amazing part of the program," she adds.
Two November events to note:
- Walk-A-Thon regarding food insecurity on Nov. 6; coincides with the communitywide 2022 Day of Service. Participants can learn details about community food-related needs through booths, donate food or money, and reflect about being good neighbors while exercising.
- Thanksgiving Day lunch feast will be hosted at Hopewell Presbyterian Church, 80 W. Broad St., with anyone welcome.
The nonprofit received a 2021 Snailblazer award for Food Justice from Slow Food USA. To volunteer, email email@example.com or consult the group's website. Cheryl says volunteers can assist at any capacity, even by hosting a one-time food drive.
Donation checks can be dropped off at Aunt Chubby’s during business hours. This 501(c)(3) also receives online donations via PayPal and Venmo.