‘Plates with Purpose’ launched to feed NP needy, help businesses

‘Plates with Purpose’ launched to feed NP needy, help businesses

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Thanks to an anonymous donation from two local women, a new partnership with the Marieville Neighborhood Partnership and Town Council President Dino Autiello is helping to feed hungry people in town while also supporting local businesses that are hurting.

The partnership with Parma Bar & Grille is a new charitable program called Plates with Purpose, centered around distributing nutritious meals to individuals and/or families in North Providence who are struggling to meet their own basic food needs. The program takes place on Sundays, and those selected to receive a meal that week can safely and anonymously pick up their meal or meals from Parma Bar & Grille, located at 1449 Mineral Spring Ave. Delivery can be provided for those who are unable to travel.

Ken Amoriggi, president of the Marieville Neighborhood Partnership and a town councilman, said Plates with Purpose was established by the two anonymous community members after they were inspired by a national initiative called Plating Change, established to challenge Americans to give back to local restaurants and help those who are food insecure.

Having opened a few months before the global pandemic began to significantly impact operations, Parma Bar & Grille was selected as the first partnership for Plates with Purpose, said Amoriggi. Parma owners then connected the two women with Amoriggi and Autiello. The connection resulted in a formal program for North Providence residents.

The program started about six weeks ago and has supplied more than 250 meals so far. During this phase, Marieville Neighborhood Partnership members Chuck Pollock and Rod DaSilva, who are members of the North Providence School Committee, have been working with local school administrators to attempt to identify families who may be in need of help and those that are interested in joining the program. Amoriggi, Autiello and Councilor Stefano Famiglietti coordinate the logistics directly with Parma Bar & Grille each week.

In an effort to extend a meal to as many town residents as possible, the founders have reached out to the local low-income and senior housing facilities, churches and other organizations. They also decided to place a particular emphasis on reaching seniors ages 65 and older because food insecurity is high among seniors for a variety of reasons. Since many of those same factors affect lower income households similarly, the program is also focused on families with longstanding limitations on their income, or who have recently suffered setbacks contributing to their food insecurity.

“The two wonderful women who hatched this amazing idea made it clear to me that they want this program to become so successful and sustainable that it basically becomes an institution in the community and runs seamlessly for years to come,” said Amoriggi. “We are going to do everything in our power to make that a reality, but like any other successful endeavor, it takes a village to make it a success.”

He said even though the creators funded the program with enough seed money to get it started and have it run without outside help for some time, at $3,500, it is imperative that those who want to support the program reach out to the partnership to donate.

“For a modest donation of $10, you can not only give a community member a delicious and balanced meal, but you will also be helping a local small business keep its door open during the worst economic crisis in over a century,” said Amoriggi.

The biggest challenge, said Amoriggi, is not finding families in need, but maintaining a needed stream of donations. The hope is to bring in new donors and businesses on multiple food partnerships.

The restaurant picked each week what meal it’s going to make. The first week was chicken Parmesan with penne and a side salad.

The Marieville Neighborhood Partnership will eventually have a donation button on its website, he said. Donations are solicited in $10 increments because for every $10 donated, someone is provided a meal. Half of that money is the cost to the restaurant and other $5 is the restaurant’s profit, as this is intended to help local restaurants that have suffered due to the pandemic.

The staff at Parma is trained to inform people about the program. Diners at Parma receive information about the program and instructions on how to donate if they’d like to.

To donate or be added to the list for food, contact Amoriggi or Justine Ruizzo at 401-722-3777 or ken@amoriggilaw.com or justine@amoriggilaw.com. Once someone signs up for the list, they are eligible to be contacted on any given week to be informed they will be receiving a meal that Sunday, and once on the list, remain on the list indefinitely, and are constantly in the rotation to be chosen to receive a meal any given week, unless they ask to be removed.

Call Parma at 401-537-7267 or visit www.plateswithpurpose.org for more.