“I lost 80 percent of my business in 48 hours,” said Alissa Leinonen, CEO of Gourmondo Co.
The Seattle business known for its gourmet boxed lunches frequently used by local companies, including Amazon, was on the verge of collapse. Like many smaller companies, Gourmondo’s business came to a grinding halt as COVID-19 took hold. With schools and offices closed and communities under quarantine, the vast majority of Gourmondo’s large orders and contracts for box lunches and catering were canceled.
At the same time, healthy meals for Seattle and King County's most vulnerable residents became a clear need, so Amazon, quickly enlisted the catering experts to support a meal preparation and delivery program.
Amazon is covering the cost to ensure more than 2,700 elderly residents and people with disabilities living within King County Housing Authority and Seattle Housing Authority residences can safely receive healthy, hearty meals. The 30-day program will support more than 73,000 meals.
"Amazon is committed to supporting people in immediate need across the globe and right here in King County—and right now it’s more important than ever we pay close attention to our most vulnerable neighbors,” said John Schoettler, Amazon vice president, Global Real Estate and Facilities. "We know we are stronger together, and this unique partnership between Amazon, King County Housing Authority, Seattle Housing Authority, and Gourmondo Co. not only provides tens of thousands of critical meals to thousands of our neighbors in urgent need, it helps ensure a local small business can keep its doors open and continue doing what they do best."
Gourmondo is prepping the meals—which include menu items like roasted salmon, grilled vegetables and their signature brownies—for 35 King County Housing Authority and Seattle Housing Authority sites. Both organizations will then help distribute the boxed meals to their residents, through contactless doorstep delivery.
"Community support is critical in responding to this crisis," said Stephen Norman, executive director of King County Housing Authority. "Amazon’s willingness to step up to the plate and provide desperately needed food assistance to elderly and other medically vulnerable residents in our public housing will literally save lives. The deliveries ensure these residents have access to food while being able to shelter in place and avoid trips outside."
Maxine Champion of Renton, Washington, was one of the first meal recipients. She looks forward to more Gourmondo boxes arriving on her doorstep three days a week, for the next month. "Not only does it help those of us that are sequestered in our units here, it’s a thoughtful gesture and quite an uplifting experience to have that box outside our door," she said. "Thank you for the box lunches and making our quiet days more bearable. The food is tasty and healthful."
"No one should have to go hungry during the coronavirus outbreak," said Seattle Housing Authority Executive Director Andrew Lofton. "Amazon's donation of meals prepared by Gourmondo means that won’t happen for hundreds of low-income seniors, individuals with disabilities, and other vulnerable Seattle Housing Authority residents whose access to food may be diminished during this crisis. We're so grateful for Amazon's support."
For King County Housing Authority and Seattle Housing Authority residents, and for Gourmondo, this program provides a glimmer of hope.
"I am a fourth generation Seattleite and love my city and community," said Leinonen. "Having this opportunity to serve some of the more vulnerable people in our community, particularly the elderly who have fewer resources for food, has been profoundly impactful. Even though we cannot be close to our own parents and grandparents during this time, we can still help feed and support many others, and that has given all of us at Gourmondo a sense of purpose during these difficult times. We are proud and grateful for Amazon’s support and for giving us the opportunity to do what we love most—serving meals to our community with love and care."
“On behalf of the residents at the Yesler Terrace, I appreciate your concerns and kindness to bring delicious and healthy food to our doors,” said Ann Thuy Nguyen, a Seattle Housing Authority resident.
In addition to providing healthy meals to vulnerable residents in its hometown, Amazon will continue to pay all hourly employees that support offices around the world—from food service, to security guards to janitorial staff—during the time Amazon employees are asked to work from home. Learn more about what Amazon is doing for employees, partners, customers, and communities.
Healthy meals for those who can't safely leave home right now are critical. Amazon teamed up with @gourmondoco, King County Housing Authority and @Seattle_Housing to distribute more than 70,000 meals over the next month during the COVID-19 outbreak. https://t.co/LROQuY5qho pic.twitter.com/QA1sBJyLeL— Amazon News (@amazonnews) March 30, 2020