MILWAUKEE - The Free Food Festival at Sherman Phoenix is helping feed people in need while honoring women business owners thanks to a sizeable grant from World Central Kitchen.
"You'd be surprised at how many restaurants in Milwaukee are owned and run by women," said Caitlyn Cullen, Free Food Festival organizer.
In honor of International Women's History Month, the international relief organization World Central Kitchen granted $80,000 to be dispersed among 22 women-owned restaurants in Milwaukee.
"As we are helping our community, the Kitchen is helping small businesses to stay open," Adija Greersmith, owner of Confectionately Yours bakery.
With the grant came the Free Food Festival. The event allows restaurants, like Rise and Grind Café and Confectionately Yours, to maintain business while giving back to their communities -- providing free meals and baked goods.
"Throughout the pandemic, it's been a struggle to stay open and keep customers coming in, so to be able to get a grant and serve the community in honor of women, it just means so much to us," said Baboonie Tatum, owner of Rise & Grind Café.
The money doesn't just go to providing the food that will be given away, it's also meant to honor the accomplishments of all female entrepreneurs.
"It feels good for people to think about how much the woman is important in society at large, and I’m very honored to be apart of that," Greersmith said.
The festival will be hosted in a street market-type format at Sherman Phoenix from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 28. All are welcome.
"Take only what you need and only if you’re in need," Cullen said. "You don’t have to bring any paperwork, please don’t bring all the kids if you can help it. It's still a pandemic. This is an honor system-based thing."
As much as the event is about female business owners, it's also about community.
"You can look to different leaders to do things, but we have your back and have had your back this whole time," said Cullen. "That won't change no matter how far out of this pandemic we get."