WELLFLEET – On Sunday, Bruce A. Bierhans, a lawyer and longtime volunteer chair of many Cape Cod non-profits, was texting a friend about the Covid-19 crisis and its effect on his hometown, Wellfleet.
The texts were “about a way to help people in town that we thought were going to be concerned about not being able to work and where were they going to get food,” he said.
So Bierhans and Trudy Vermehren, owner of the Fox & Crow Restaurant, quickly hatched a plan to raise money to buy food to feed people in Wellfleet who need food for any reason.
By Thursday morning, he said, 240 people had donated. The fundraiser, mostly on Facebook, has already raised $14,500, he said.
“Obviously, the economic consequences [of the pandemic] to the Wellfleet situation are significant,” he said. We have people in the hospitality industry. Restaurants are closed. And we have many people in the shellfish industry who can’t sell to restaurants.”
With the duel problem of those without incomes combined with a large senior population not wanting to venture out, Bierhans quickly discovered that, “The need is there.”
Ten meals were made given to residents on Tuesday, he said. About 50 were given out on on both Wednesday and Thursday, said Bierhans. In three days, 110 meals have been given out, he said.
There are two different aspects to giving food out, he explained. People can pick up bagged meals Monday to Saturday between 8 and 10 a.m. at the Fox & Crow. Or, he said, for seniors, they can get home deliveries.
Home deliveries are set up as safely as possible, he said. “We do what we call a ring and run. We take a meal to the home. Ring the doorbell or knock on the door and then leave.”
The biggest need during this crisis, said Bierhans, is food.
“The program originally was for student meals because that is where we thought the greatest need was,” he said. But the mission quickly expanded to the entire community – especially those without means to feed themselves, and those who are at most risk by venturing out.
Tuesday was the first day of serving food. “Today we expanded to seniors and families and frankly anyone in need.”
“We’ve had two calls today from seniors who couldn’t leave. One was a gentleman whose wife has Alzheimer’s. He was apologetic about calling,” said Bierhans. “There are no apologies necessary. We are here for you.”
As for the logistics of it all, Bierhans said, “We could not do this without Trudy and the Fox And Crow Cafe… The food is coming from her. The food she had on hand as well as from her purveyor and other local organizations.”
“Based upon demand,” he said, “we’re getting food from everywhere we can,” including local organizations such as the 246 Kitchen, a local food pantry. “The Lighthouse charter school donated all their milk,” he said, as an example of donations.
“A farmer called this morning and donated all of her pea sprouts she was going to sell. We will use those in sandwiches,” said Bierhans.
The menu is appealing. For instance, “In our hot bag, there is a breakfast sandwich with egg and cheese on multigrain bread with homefries,” he said.
There is also a fruit bag and a choice of vegetable or meat quiche “since real men do eat quiche,” he said. There is even a dessert – a muffin, banana bread and a cookie, he said.
Going forward, Bierhans said, “We’re just taking it day to day.” If there is a shelter in place order, he said, things could change. “If someone from the government tells us that we can’t do this anymore, we will stop. But unless that happens, this is open to anyone.”
The small town of Wellfleet has rallied in the face of this large pandemic. “This literally started with a conversation Sunday morning,” said Bierhans.
“It’s amazing we raised $14,000,” he said. “But then again, nothing that Wellfeetians do for each other surprises me.”
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