It’s no secret Chelsea was one of the worst hit cities in Massachusetts by the COVID-19 pandemic and many people not only suffered with the terrible virus but many also lost a steady stream of income as the state closed during the height of the outbreak.
Celebrated local chef and owner of the Farm Girl food truck, Lorena Lorenzet, was one of the businesses impacted by COVID.
“Ninety-six percent of my catering was cancelled,” said Lorenzet, whose food truck is a popular catering option for graduations, weddings, corporate parties and other catered affairs. “I was fully booked for summer but then COVID hit and they cancelled everything.”
Lorenzet searched for ways to keep busy and came across a program organized by the Shah Foundation that is helping feed Chelsea children through the federal summer food program.
With help from federal funding and other donors the Shah Foundation paired chefs like Lorenzet with local food distribution sites in Chelsea to cook and distribute fresh, home cooked meals for kids throughout the summer.
The program not only allowed Lorenzet to maintain her food truck business but hire support staff from Chelsea and upgrade equipment to be able to meet the demand of summer food for local kids.
Through the program Lorenzet has become the anchor chef for Chelsea’s Summer Eats Program at the Salvation Army on Chestnut Street and Temple Emmanuel on Tudor Street in Cary Square.
“I love to do it,” she said. “ love to be able to help these kids and provide them with a decent meal. With the budget I have I knew we could do it and it was something that was not impossible.”
So far this summer Lorenzet has created 2,000 amazingly delicious food boxes per week for Chelsea kids at the two sites.
“I love seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when we are distributing the meals each day,” said Lorenzet. “It makes me happy to know we are helping and the kids go home with a good meal.”
The Summer Eats program provides free meals to anyone 18 and under at locations across the state when school is out. All kids and teens are eligible, and no registration or ID is required to participate.
Temple Emmanuel, established in the 1930s as an alternative to the local orthodox synagogues, got involved in the program to honor the Jewish tradition of “Tikkun Olam”. Tikkun Olam seeks to benefit the local community while helping to improve the broader world so helping distribute free summer food meals to children in Chelsea was a no-brainer.
“It’s so important for every child to receive healthy food every day. We are thrilled to partner with local restaurants to provide nutritious food in partnership with the YMCA, the Salvation Army, and Temple Emmanuel of Chelsea.” said President of the Shah Family Foundation Jill Shah.