A non-profit organization is providing free meals to the more than 10,000 Brevard County unemployed food and beverage workers during this coronavirus pandemic.
Hospitality Life was co-founded in 2016 by Chris Conneen, owner of the Pizza Gallery Grill and 28 North in The Avenue Viera, and Buz Underill, owner of Squid Lips Grill in Melbourne.
The pair have a passion for people and the restaurant industry with a purpose to provide life-giving resources to the operators and employees of the hospitality industry.
If you have been laid off or furloughed because of COVID-19 and want to receive a free meal through the organization’s Feed the Need program, qualifications include proof of Brevard County residency (drivers’ license or government identification); pay stub to verify service industry employment (your name and the name of your employer are needed) and a valid email address.
Once you’ve completed the form, you will receive a confirmation email. Forms must be submitted by noon for same-day pickup between 2 and 5 p.m. Requests are limited to one per day. You then can select from the following locations to get your meal:
- Pizza Gallery and Grill, The Avenue Viera
- Pappagallos, Satellite Beach
- PizzaVola eateries in Cocoa Beach, Indian Harbor Beach and West Melbourne
- Aunt Louise’s Pizzeria in Sebastian
"We would not be able to do this without the support and donations from our community," Conneen said.
One Feed the Need donation — a $2,500 check from The Viera Company — will help feed 1,250 people, Conneen said. "Everyone is doing amazing work."
Since the government’s stay-at-home order in March, the group has distributed close to 3,000 meals.
Conneen said if you would like to help Hospitality Life serve those that have served you, you can give a virtual tip. For example, the restaurants can feed an individual or a family of four, a nutritionally balanced meal for less than $2 a person. The donation also is tax deductible.
"We all love the hospitality we receive when dining at a fancy restaurant, staying at a nice hotel or having cocktails at our favorite bar. What most don’t know is how crazy things are behind the scenes: fast paced, high stress, long hours, late nights, lots of partying, then wake up and do it again," Conneen wrote on the groups’s website.
"While many in this industry are caught up in the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll reality, there is another side of the industry with acceptance, compassion, recognition, positive values and a strong family culture," he continued. "It is in this side of the industry where Hospitality Life strives to build community through its positive events, a website of resources, community outreach and social media connections which have had and will continue to have an edifying impact on both operators and employees in the hospitality Industry."
For more information about Hospitality Life, go to hospitalitylife.org.