French Food for Vulnerable Men During COVID
How the French Embassy and DC’s French restaurants began feeding La Casa’s formerly homelessness men during COVID
Friendship Place’s allies in the French community have brought continental flair to the meals enjoyed by the men of LaCasa, a Permanent Supportive Housing residence for 40 men in Columbia Heights.
Since May, the French Embassy has arranged for meals to be provided by Washington area French restaurants.
The idea originated as an effort to support restaurants struggling during the COVID-19 quarantine. The Embassy intended to pay the restaurants to prepare meals, which they would then donate to organizations such as Friendship Place. When the restaurants heard who was to receive this food, they insisted on donating the meals themselves!
This generous idea started with 5-6 restaurants and continues to grow.
Once a week the restaurants prepare fresh meals, which are delivered still hot. They include fare both French and American, including meatloaf, potatoes, chicken with mushroom sauce, and rice. Also included are delicious desserts, including apple tarts, custard, and chocolate mousse.
The meals are well-received; the men have been waiting in lobby when they know there will be deliveries!
Jon Bolduc, Director of La Casa, says “Bag meals are great, but there’s something about hot, gourmet meals. It’s very special for men who have never had something this nice. Our residents have been very excited!”
The Embassy and restaurants are also happy with this arrangement and are proud to see the impact they are having.
Ambassador Philippe Etienne called for solidarity to support those affected by the pandemic. “We are all in this together: French, Americans, and the rest of the international community,” he said. “And there is only one way out: together.”
In fact, other members of the French community have identified the need to stock LaCasa’s food pantry, which the men access when their own food runs low.
Reports Bolduc, “It’s nice to open the closet and have peanut butter and jelly—something that we can immediately give the men, especially since a lot of other resources are currently closed.”
Friendship Place is grateful to the French community for such generous support during this difficult time.