By JOSHUA WASHINGTON — The California Golden State has seen its fair share of food-related unrest in recent years, but Sacramento restaurants have done little to help.
In the midst of the city’s food riots, restaurants across the region are doing their part to help residents and tourists alike, especially during a busy time of the year.
The Golden State is home to more than 1.2 million residents, and nearly 100,000 people work in restaurants, according to the latest data from the state Department of Business Oversight.
Restaurants employ about 2.3 million workers across the state.
In 2014, the Sacramento-based food-and-beverage service, The Restaurant Group, started offering a one-week free-for-all to all customers during the week of Labor Day.
A new version of the program, called “Food Mondays,” launched last year and is offered by nearly 20 restaurants.
The program gives free access to free food and drinks to anyone, regardless of income level, and is a way to encourage families to shop at local stores for more nutritious meals, said Lisa Schreiber, executive director of the restaurant group.
The free food also includes free groceries and other essentials.
“We know that our customers are the best customers,” said Schreib, who serves as the Golden State’s chief operating officer.
“They want to have good, fresh food and we’re trying to help make it available to them.”
A similar free-food program has also been offered by the Food Network.
In 2017, the network’s food show, “Big Brother,” made it free to viewers to bring food and drink to a local restaurant for a week.
In addition to the one-day free-lunch program, The Rodeo, which was launched in March 2018, has partnered with The Golden State Food Bank, which serves up to $3,000 worth of groceries for people with low incomes.
The Rodeos partnered with the Golden Center for the Arts to offer free lunch for low-income residents in 2018.
In 2018, the group opened a second free-service restaurant at a local grocery store to cater to families that have difficulty shopping at local grocery stores.
The restaurant also hosts free lunches for the community in 2018, with one event a week for low income residents.
The group is also partnering with the California Food Bank to offer a free-meal program that includes free food for low and moderate income families in 2018 as well.
Schreib said she hopes The RODEO can expand its program to the rest of the state as well, but it is a small part of what it does.
“If you look at the whole picture, The Golden Center has done really good work for a long time, but we’re in the middle of the recession, and it’s very challenging,” she said.
“And if you don’t have access to your food, you can’t go out, or you can get it late.
So it’s a little bit of a Catch-22.”
Schreiber said the organization is focused on providing nutritious meals to the hungry in the Sacramento area, but there are still many ways to make the food available to the public.
“Food banks are great, but they’re not as important as community engagement,” she added.
“A lot of these places are out of touch with the community and they’re just a little out of reach, and they can be very difficult to access for low incomes and people who can’t afford to pay for their own meals.”