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Local catering company, Madison family continue to do good during pandemic

(NBC15)
Published: May. 1, 2020 at 11:38 AM CDT
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Despite the food industry taking a big hit during the coronavirus pandemic, David Porto, an owner and Director of Events of Blue Plate Catering in Madison, said he and his colleagues felt an obligation to give back to the community.

“As a local business, we think it’s our obligation to help out our community, that has always existed,” he said.

In March, Blue Plate Catering started their Feed the Front Lines initiative, inviting community members to donate money to purchase meals, which Blue Plate Catering would then prepare and deliver for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, they have delivered meals to local hospitals, doctors’ offices, fire stations, and more.

“One month in and we have delivered over 4,000 meals and we have had over 5,000 meals that have been purchased,” Porto said.

Now, the catering company is also receiving support from other local businesses. Porto said Becker Law Office has agreed to match up to $5,000.00 in donations from other law firms, and Park Bank will match up to $2,000.00 in donations from the general public.

Porto said the catering company does not make any profit off of this, and in fact loses money, but still wants to help.

“At the end of the day, the company ends up losing a little bit of money, but the owners are just saying, ‘we want to get our staff back to work, we want to feed people these wonderful meals, how do we do that? Let’s just do it,’” he said.

Porto said they’ve been met with gratitude for their deliveries, and said it has been emotional.

“It feels really awesome," he said. "I’ve been brought to tears a couple times, I had a great conversation with a doctor, both of us were crying."

The company is also finding new ways to give back. Porto said on Fridays in May, they will be hosting a fish fry, with proceeds from the sales going to The Beacon, Porchlight, Second Harvest, The River Food Pantry, Middleton Outreach Ministry, and Badger Prairie Needs Network.

On the west side of Madison, the Stapleton family has seen the pop up food pantry they put up in their front yard continue to grow.

“It’s just amazing, you know, the outpouring of support we’ve gotten,” said Kurt Stapleton. “It’s really cool to see that people are so willing to help out.”

In March, Kurt’s wife, Nicki, started the Prairie Road Food Pantry. Kurt had been helping a man move into an apartment and out of homelessness. Kurt said he had asked the community for food donations to provide the man, and ended up with more than the man could use. Nicki decided to put the extra food out in the front yard, open for anyone to take.

What started as a few cans and a bin on a table grew into a standing cupboard flanked by extra bins and tables, complete with storage bins full to the brim of donations. The Stapletons said so many people have pitched in that the pantry is now self sustaining.

"I’m thinking, who else can we help with this?” said Kurt. “My wife has donated to other pantries around the city, we’ve dropped food off at the Lussier Center.”

Kurt said everyone has been respectful of the pantry.

“Just every day, it's five, six people every day dropping off food,” Kurt said. “Not just food but personal products, hygiene stuff, toilet paper, diapers are a big thing people drop off a lot.”

Now, Kurt said people even donate money to the pantry, which Nicki uses to replenish in-demand items.

“We have a donation box on the pantry now and people are donating money and my wife will go and get the personal care products, the hand sanitizers, spray bottles for the sanitizer, and she'll buy a lot of diapers and stuff like that."

Both Blue Plate Catering and the Stapletons continue to do good for their community, working to Feed the Front Lines, and feed people from the front yard.

For more information on Feed the Front Lines,

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For more information on the Prairie Road Food Pantry,

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