LOCAL LOOKOUT Columbia brewery serves free farm dinners to community

COLUMBIA – In hopes of helping unemployed and underemployed workers throughout mid-Missouri, Broadway Brewery is now serving free farm-fresh dinners.

The Free Farm Dinner Program provides locally sourced meals to the community at no cost. Dinners include a freshly cooked entrée and multiple sides. The program is rooted in helping mid-Missouri at large, from consumers to farmers.

“We’re trying to provide more points of access for the consumer, for our customer base and for our farmers,” Broadway Brewery co-owner Walker Claridge said. “In the end it’s all about helping everybody get through, helping everybody find the best situation for them in this time that is very troubling and hard to navigate.

Broadway Brewery is offering this program in partnership with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center and Patchwork Family Farms. Claridge said the idea came from seeing a need in the restaurant and food service community.

“When you have a stay-at-home order, that automatically eliminates all waitress, waiter and server jobs and it cuts all of the kitchen people out,” Claridge said. “So immediately right off the bat from an industry standpoint, you’ve got everybody out of work." 

The Free Farm Dinner Program officially started May 4. Claridge said since day one of the Missouri stay-at-home order Broadway Brewery had to close its in-house dining. From that point on, he wanted to create new programs to support his customers and mid-Missouri farmers.

“The farm to table food is the whole basis of the brewery,” Claridge said. “We’re trying to do what we can to keep the social fabric of the community together by continuing to buy from those farmers,”

The program is funded in part by Veterans United Foundation and Heart of Missouri United Way. The goal is to serve 500 meals over five weeks. Meals are available for curbside pickup Tuesday through Thursday each week from 2 to 4 p.m. Claridge said that the program is set to last until June. But if a community need presents itself then, Broadway Brewery and its partners will reevaluate the situation.

“It’s a collaboration of seeing where the needs are and how you can connect things and how you can make it work for the community so once again you still have something to come back to when this is all over,” Claridge said. “We’re set to go till June, but I don’t think the need for this is going to end then either.”

People looking to sign up to receive meals through the Free Farm Dinner Program can apply on Broadway Brewery’s website.

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