Lane County aims to help homeless and local food businesses

The arrangement would allow for food carts, trucks and restaurants to enter business with the Lane County government in exchange for food to two new shelters in the area.

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 7:16 PM
Updated: Mar 25, 2020 7:31 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- As people continue to work from home and practice social distancing in the area, restaurants, bars and food carts have had to get creative. But with some help from the Lane County government, relief may be coming in more ways than one.

"There's this Lane County survey, a need for feeding the homeless," said Dave Wagenheim. "I think it's a great 'cause I would love to participate."

Wagenheim owns Viva Vegeterian Grill, a local food truck in town. The Lane County government survey is being sent out to not only give local eateries some business but feed two new shelters opening to address the needs of the pandemic. 

MORE: TEMPORARY HOMELESS SHELTERS MAY HELP SLOW SPREAD OF COVID-19

Chelsy Navarro owns Chacha's Hawaiian Grill and was sent the survey from multiple people. The county anticipates serving a max of 350 people three times a day, with a budget of $5 per meal.

Lane County officials said that their emergency declaration allows them to be more flexible in the use of funds, which they can use to seek recompenses at the state and federal levels. They have already received some emergency funding from the state which can help pay businesses for their services in this situation. While there are still details to iron out, Navarro and Wagenheim are ready and willing to make it work.

"If there's enough organization, the five dollars is doable because as the owner I can come in and eat a lot of that labor myself as long as I'm prepared for it," said Navarro. 

"I can make it work to serve food at five dollars especially if it's a great cause, I can take a little hit there," Wagenheim said. "But if I know there's gonna be 300 to feed, that's gonna be different if there's 300 people to feed."

Ironing out those details may help food vendors be able to prep food and order ingredients easier. Both Navarro and Wagenheim mention that having a ballpark idea of people to feed will help them coordinate with their vendors to order the proper amount of ingredients. And by doing business with Lane County, food carts and restaurants are also paying it forward.

"More than ever we need to stick together, help the neighbor out," said Navarro. "Us little guys we don't necessarily have the unemployment to fall back on. This is our bread and butter to feed our families. Personally I have a little boy that I do this for."

"This is like a situation where now we're communicating at six feet distance and a lot online and despite that I hope we can find ways to help each other out and stay a tight knit community," Wagenheim concludes. 

The hope is that in the coming days, the details from Lane County will come out so food carts can not only help those in need, they can stay afloat themselves as well.

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