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West Palm Beach chef continues to help feed those in need

Everyone from waiters to cooks helps out
Posted at 9:34 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 00:00:30-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.  — With the state of Florida still in the stages of reopening, there's still a deep need for food assistance for local families. One chef wants to make sure that message is not lost in this difficult time.

"This is our schedule of all our agencies, sixteen different agencies as they pick up throughout the week so, we have a packed schedule for a Tuesday pick up. Today we're at Thursday and today we actually do a double pack, we're doing almost four-thousand meals today," Chef Zach Bell said.

Grato chef.JPG
Chef Zach Bell

Bell said what started as emergency food relief for the COVID-19 crisis has now turned into something much bigger at the Italian restaurant "Grato" in West Palm Beach.

"We kind of have a desire to keep going, ensuring that Palm Beach County we can play some small role in reducing the food insecurity in our county," he said.

Since April they've been packing meals, which allowed Bell to hire a portion of his staff back. He said they're doing around two-thousand meals a day to sixteen different area agencies.

"So the morning team comes in at 6 a.m., they do production, chill everything down. We have a prep team that comes in the middle of the day, preps for the next day," Bell said. "And then, our waiters became our packing teams so they come in the evening around 5 O'clock and they seal all the meals that are already chilled. They go into a box and get chilled overnight and the next morning the distribution team that helps the agencies get the meals they need out to their people."

Everyone from waiters to cooks helps out.

"Honestly, it's amazing, we come here everyday work from a thousand to four-thousand meals a day and we know at the end of every day those meals are going out to families in need and communities that are struggling," Yamil Funes said.

Bell said for some reason people think since Palm Beach County is in 'Phase One' there isn't a need for food assistance. He said, don't be fooled.

"So even when things go back to normal, we still aren't in a good place so we know this is something we need to continue to do," he said.