The true measure of a community is how it reacts in times of crisis. In Saratoga Springs, the recent outbreak of COVID-19 has quickly shuttered a once-bustling community. Over the past week, many Saratoga establishments have been forced to temporarily close their doors, with eateries (and some retail stores) offering takeout or home delivery options. (Be sure to check out our running list of businesses participating in “Take Out Week,” as well as our list of restaurants that will be delivering copies of Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living with all their orders.) With residents choosing to stay inside in the name of “social distancing” or being forced to stay in because of mandatory quarantines, it’s put a major financial strain on local businesses, with many seeing sharp drops in sales. Yet some of those same businesses are rallying to help their community members in need.
When the decision was made to close public schools this past weekend, Kelsey Whalen, owner of Whole Harvest Company, knew she wanted to help. Whole Harvest, which offers vegan and vegetarian-friendly fare such as salads, grain bowls and smoothies, as well as a variety of gluten-free options and desserts, celebrated its one-year anniversary this past Saturday. The very next day, the Caroline Street restaurant announced its program to help out local school-aged children in need of a healthy meal. “I knew there would be children who potentially couldn’t get to the designated school districts pick up locations for their free breakfast or lunch,” says Whalen. So, in a post on Facebook, Whole Harvest pledged to provide free takeout salads to children whose families rely on school lunches for meals. Since then, she’s expanded this offering to include anyone in the community in need of a meal.
Another local restaurant that’s joined in to offer food assistance is Saratoga’s Broadway Deli, an authentic New York-style deli located behind Kilwin’s on Broadway (and a neighbor of Saratoga Living‘s). The deli established its own initiative to ensure no one went hungry during this uncertain time, providing free lunches to any child affected by school closures, as well as to food industry workers who’ve found themselves out of work due to the recent mandatory closures. “I know how hard it is to be a single parent and to have to worry about getting kids’ lunches for school,” says Saratoga’s Broadway Deli Owner Daniel Chessare. “It’s especially difficult,” he continues, “as a single parent in the restaurant industry, given the long hours and need for childcare.” Saratoga’s Broadway Deli is now taking its initial offering even further: “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you work anymore. If you’re having a hard time feeding your kids, you can come in here, and we’ll give you a free meal,” Chessare says.
Though both Saratoga’s Broadway Deli and Whole Harvest want to help out as much as possible, free meals do come at a cost to the restaurants. So, both Whalen and Chessare have set up accounts on the cash app Venmo and are accepting donations from community members looking to offer financial support. Additionally, the two eateries continue to be open for takeout orders and delivery. “While this is a scary time and sales are certainly low, it’s important to continue to help small businesses if you still have a job and are capable,” Whalen says. “One tiny purchase may seem insignificant to you, but it means the world to us.”
Help Whole Harvest: Community members can donate just $3 to feed a child in need by sending money to the Venmo account @Whole-Harvest, or by donating to this GoFundMe page.
Help Saratoga’s Broadway Deli: Donations can be made to @SBDeli on Venmo. A QR code to facilitate donation is available on the Deli’s Facebook page.