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Bartender Amanda Villosio found herself in the company of thousands of bar and restaurant workers laid off last week after the Colorado government shutdown began on March 17 to contain the spread of the coronavirus. However, Villosio is also the secretary of the Colorado Bartenders Guild, who works to provide free groceries to people in the service industry and their families.

The guild just launched the Colorado Family Meal, which provides up to three meals twice a week for those who sign up for the program. Last Saturday alone, the program distributed 200 meal sets (that’s 600 meals in total) at Wynkoop Brewing Company (1634 18th Street), where food is prepared and distributed with minimal interaction between organizers and those who collect meals.

“My main concern is safety – the safety of my team,” says Villosio. “Social distancing is something that we absolutely stress.”

Colorado Family Meal serves way more than just bartenders. “You don’t have to be a guild member to get food,” notes Villosio. “Our industry is dedicated to serving others. It’s time to turn the tables.”

Hearth & Dram chefs Adam Vero and Jeff Hickman prepare the meals, which are fully funded by the Denver Chapter of the Colorado Bartenders Guild. However, the guild needs help with the procurement of food. So she is recruiting sponsors and has set up a sponsorship page on cobg.square.site where individuals and organizations can add between $ 10 (for three meals) and $ 250 for the pot. According to Villosio, some of the major national liquor brands have become sponsors of the grocery program, and Colorado grocers have also provided the raw materials that Vero and Hickman turn into nutritious meals.

Service and hospitality members starving for help can sign up for meals using a form on the Colorado Bartenders Guild Instagram account (@cobartenderguild). Meals will be available for collection every Wednesday and Saturday for the next eight weeks.

Other industry people are also active. Prim Communications, a public relations firm that serves many front range restaurants, has started Feeding Colorado Heroes, which will deliver meals to health care workers battling the spread of the coronavirus. Feeding Colorado Heroes takes donations that are used to pay restaurants to prepare meals for delivery to medical teams in emergency rooms and intensive care units. This is how highly competitive restaurants benefit from business and help send groceries to hardworking medical professionals. A US $ 100 donation pays enough food to feed twelve people, according to the organization. Funds can be donated on the Feeding Colorado Heroes GoFundMe page. Restaurants wishing to register and hospital administrators interested in meals can register at [email protected] An online registration form is in progress. So keep an eye on the company’s Facebook page for updates.

Send information about groups and additional efforts helping hospitality workers and others to [email protected] Click here for some great moments during difficult times, as well as news about other organizations setting up Services, including Friends & Family Meal and Operation Family Meal.

Keep Westword Free … Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we want to keep it that way. We offer our readers free access to concise coverage of local news, food and culture. Produce stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands with bold coverage, stylish writing, and staff, everything from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Feature Writing Award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism have won. With the existence of local journalism under siege and setbacks having a greater impact on advertising revenue, it is more important than ever for us to raise support for funding our local journalism. You can help by joining our “I Support” membership program which allows us to continue to cover Denver without paywalls.

Mark Antonation is the Westword Food & Drink Editor. He began eating and writing about every restaurant on Federal Boulevard, and continues to cover the diverse international food scene on Metro Denver and the city’s rapidly changing dining landscape. Mark was named an Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association in 2018.