(SAN FRANCISCO) -- When the coronavirus swept through San Francisco, closing businesses and forcing people to stay in their homes, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo knew he had to do something.
So Costolo, a partner in the popular San Francisco eatery Che Fico Alimentari, called up the restaurant's chef, David Nayfeld.
“I just called David and said, look, is there some way I can donate a bunch of money for a day for you guys to make a bunch of meals and pay for them for families who either are, you know, really economically struggling right now or haven't had time to prepare for the shelter in place?” Costolo told ABC News. “Maybe we can kill two birds with one stone to keep some of your staff employed and some of these families fed.”
Costolo threw in the first $2,000 and other investors quickly anted up and a post on Facebook was made along with a video announcing the Costolo Family Meal Fund.
“PLEASE ONLY USE THE PROMO CODE IF YOU ARE IN NEED,” the Facebook post read. “If you are in good shape and feel like buying someone else’s dinner you can also add a $50 to your bill to pay it forward to someone else in need.”
The first night the restaurant was able to serve 80 free meals.
Since then, the initiative quickly took off. Nayfeld reported they successfully served more than 1,500 meals for free.
While feeding people who might not have means during the COVID-19 outbreak, the meal making is also keeping some of Nayfeld’s 90 employees working with full-time benefits. Nayfeld said that he is able to keep about 17 staff members on and/or rotating on available shifts, rather than furloughing them.
“David and his team are working nonstop over there,” Costolo said. “I think they did about 320 meals last night. Feeding in upwards of 960 people.”
Nayfeld said he is only offering free meals to those in need, but is working on the honor system to determine eligibility.
“If someone tells me they need a meal, I’m going to go out on a limb and say 90% of the time they are telling me the truth,” Nayfeld said.
The Costolo Family Meal Fund drive donations, as of Wednesday, have topped $30,000, Nayfeld said. With no end to the coronavirus pandemic in sight, both men are committed to continuing this for as long as the lockdown is in effect.
“There's a social contract between, you know, people of means in a community and everybody else,” Costolo said. ”And that social contract entails that when the going gets tough, you step up and help out.”
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