Frida’s Bakery and Cafe in Milton is doing what it can to help the people in their community weather the Coronavirus storm that has swiftly spread across the entire nation. Lately a group of volunteers have been picking up food prepared at Frida’s and delivering it to Highland, Marlboro and Milton residents. Frida’s is one of many establishments that have been reaching out to help the community.
Matt Pidel explained the Ulster County sponsored Project Resilience.
“People sign up on the Project Resilience website and once they put in their information they are put on a list and food is delivered every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday,” he said. “Project Resilience is buying the food from local businesses to keep people employed and keep businesses going and is feeding people in need right now,” he said.
Last week they delivered 75 meals and by Saturday that climbed to 100 meals.
Pidel is also involved in a second initiative called Milton Cares that is run through the First Presbyterian Church of Milton. He collected food and other supplies last Sunday that will be donated to all of the people on the list. There is also a Go Fund Me page on Facebook where people can donate if they were not able to get to the church.
Pidel said he began volunteering his time because a friend’s wife was laid off during this health crisis.
“I decided to do a fundraiser because she wasn’t the only one,” he said.
Pidel, who is an American History teacher at the South Middle School in Newburgh, pointed out that at the height of the Great Depression of the 1930s unemployment in the United States reached 26 percent, “and there are projections that we can reach 30% right now.” He said he is fortunate to be employed during this crisis by teaching students at home on the internet. He urged younger people to step up and volunteer in any way they can to help their community.
B.J. Mikkelsen has been delivering the food.
“I would call it a dinner; there is so much food in there that it should be lunch and dinner,” he said. “I delivered for the first time two days ago.”
Traci Kluge began delivering food after seeing a video that Pidel posted on Facebook.
“I gave him a text saying how can I help,” she said.
Pidel is heartened by the response.
“I am very happy that so many people want to help people in the community,” he said.
Carol Smith, of Frida’s Bakery, said they prepare their own food for delivery.
“Our chef John Munger decides the day before what he is going to make; on Tuesday he made grilled chicken with a mushroom sauce and roasted potatoes with asparagus and today was an asparagus cheddar and ham quiche with some roasted potatoes as well and turkey, swiss and avocado wraps and a side salad. We had fruit on Tuesday in little cups; it’s whatever he feels like making in healthy portions,” she said.
Smith said Frida’s plans to keep going with the program.
“The owner sees it as a way to keep us employed and keep the restaurant open even if he is not making any profit on it,” she said. “Today we were talking that we might actually have to bring back somebody else to help with it, like another part-time chef because there are 100 meals and we still have to do our regular business.”
Smith said they have been holding their own financially, “but we’re doing OK and this donation program that we joined has really helped.” The public can sign up for this food program
Smith urged the public, “to support your local businesses and we will get through this, we will.”
Frida’s owner Robert Pollock said the program is designed to feed those in need in the community. He said the United Way is providing some funds to pay for the food, “but we’re losing money on everything we do here; we’re not making money but we want to feed people, that’s the whole thing.”
Frida’s is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for pick up. They can be reached at 845-795-5550.
Pete Fiorese has posted on Facebook a list of restaurants in the area that are providing pick up service at Highland Community Conversations and Events.