During the 2017 wildfires, more than 5,000 homes were destroyed in a matter of hours. Thousands remain displaced, living in RVs, mobile homes, with friends, or in vacation rentals nearly a year later. We continue to serve those families four nutritious meals, packed up and ready to go each week.
Born in the darkest hours of the October 2017 wildfires in Sonoma County, food writer Heather Irwin rallied top chefs from the Bay Area to donate prepared meals to families who had lost homes, were without power for days, or who had been displaced by the fires.
With her own extended family displaced, Heather quickly realized that it was a challenge to put together a meal for 12 people in a strange location. As chefs called on her to ask how they could help, she realized that putting the two together might just be a godsend to survivors. Imagine: Chef-prepared meals, served to-go for 4 to 6 people, ready-to-eat and most importantly, safely made.
Using social media as a communication platform to recruit volunteers, chefs, producers and monetary donations, SFM served nearly 1,500 people out of a small Santa Rosa restaurant the first day. Working with Chef Sondra Bernstein, Traci des Jardins and the chefs of SF Fights Fire, Mark and Terri Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants, Miriam Donaldson of Wishbone, Thomas Schmidt of John Ash & Co, and dozens of Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Napa and Petaluma chefs, the meals continued.
By our third day of operation, SFM was cooking hundreds of pounds of donated meat and produce and serving thousands. We asked for no proof of need and stepped forward despite not quite knowing how to operate on such a large scale. All of our guests were greeted warmly, and given meals for 4-6 people to take to their homes, hotels or friends homes to eat around a family table. Because we were able to move nimbly and rally existing connections in the disaster, SFM became a beacon of hope and a food resource that hundreds of families came to depend on.