A Rockville restaurant and a nonprofit organization are teaming up to provide not just food, but full-service, dining-out experiences to families who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
Brett Meyers is the founder and executive director of Nourish Now, a Gaithersburg-based nonprofit that collects leftover food from restaurants and catering services and donates it to families in need.
When Meyers approached the restaurant Quench in Rockville about donating food, owner Michael Holstein was happy to help. In addition to donating food, Holstein suggested bringing a family in once a week to have a sit-down, full-service dinner.
For the last four to five weeks, Nourish Now has arranged a dinner at Quench for one of the 200 or so families it serves.
“At the end, Quench just picks up the tab,” Meyers said.
Quierra Chaney of Germantown started receiving food from Nourish Now a few months ago when she was out of work. She visited Quench a few weeks ago with her two daughters, Ashira, 7, and Amaris, 3.
“It was a really, really great experience with us,” she said. “Being how it is, we don’t get to eat out very often.”
Holstein said eating out gives children a self-esteem boost and teaches them valuable social skills, such as how to order from a menu and interact with wait staff. It also gets families to sit down for a meal together.
“It’s just a different atmosphere,” he said. “... (A restaurant) forces people to be together and interact with each other without other distractions.”
Holstein said the families who have come into the restaurant through Nourish Now have been kind and appreciative, and Quench’s wait staff enjoy meeting the cute kids.
“I hope other restaurants will join in with (Nourish Now), not just in providing food, but in opening their doors,” Holstein said.
Chaney said her daughters loved the food and decor in the restaurant and even wanted to take the chairs home with them.
“They were hilarious,” Chaney said, laughing. “... I was shocked; I thought they were going to be very wild and crazy, but they were just very appreciative of being able to go out to eat, and it was a very calming environment.”
Chaney now works as a florist and also volunteers at Nourish Now.
“Helping out makes me feel like I’m doing something special, like I’m doing something productive,” she said. “They really do a lot of good things for the community.”
Nourish Now works with about 30 restaurants that donate food, Meyers said, and he hopes that more will be interested in donating a sit-down meal, even if it’s only once a year.
“Anything to give a family a night out that might not otherwise have a night out,” he said.