As the nation fights to flatten the curve in the face of this destructive pandemic, there has been an unprecedented turn towards creative forces to buoy spirits. In light of growing needs for artistic outlets and release, the Council on Culture & Arts launched a new initiative called Poems To Go. The project is offered in partnership with the Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality which recently launched the “Open for Takeout” interactive map.
Poems To Go provides poems a la carte with food pick-up, drive-thru and delivery services. Participating restaurants and service organizations can download a free, printable selection of original poems by local writers to include with each to-go meal.
The growing list of current participants include Second Harvest of the Big Bend, Cabo’s Island Grill and Bar, Chi Chi's Cafe, Ma’s Diner, Red Eye Coffee, Mae’s Mobile Kitchen, Jeri’s Midtown Café, Lofty Pursuits, Brooklyn Pizza, Madison Social and 926 Bar & Grill.
Kathleen Spehar, COCA’s executive director sees Poems to Go as yet another way to expand community partnerships, employ artists and give visibility and support to local restaurants and organizations.
“This home grown art bite is a great reminder of what makes this city special, and that we are in this together,” says Spehar.
Second Harvest of the Big Bend was one of the first organizations to join the initiative. CEO Monique Ellsworth says the program is the first step in what she hopes will be many collaborations to engage artists with the community while addressing food insecurity — nurturing not just the body, but the mind as well.
Second Harvest partners with 135 agencies throughout 11 counties and have increased their weekly direct distributions in Leon and five neighboring counties as COVID-19 continues to impact the work economy and safe access to food. Masked and gloved volunteers place the poems with meal kits and have served anywhere from 300 to 1300 people at each distribution.
“I think it is a brilliant pairing,” says Ellsworth. “When someone gets back to their home to figure out how to best prepare the food they’ve been given and support the people in their life that they love, the fact that they also have poetry with them too, is a special partnership to give to the community at this time.”
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