Milwaukee restaurant to continue food distribution as funding dwindles: 'This is an essential need'

MILWAUKEE -- For months, the COVID-19 pandemic and loss of jobs has left many people trying to figure out where their next meal was going to come from; a Milwaukee restaurant became a resource to help them make it through.

Funding may be coming to an end for The Tandem restaurant's mission, but it's not stopping them from meeting the needs of their neighbors.

As the line snakes down Fond du Lac Avenue, staff worked feverishly to prepare for a massive food distribution on Friday, July 3.

The Tandem meal distribution

Caitlin Cullen

"We've got 500 boxes of produce from Feeding America to hand out to people, we've got pamphlets with resources to hand out, thousands of meals kits to take home," said Caitlin Cullen, chef and owner of The Tandem.

Rooted in community and opportunity, Cullen said the giveaway has been critical since the pandemic hit -- and has put her own business aside to help.

"This was an essential need, and this is something we had to stop everything to do," said Cullen. "March 18 we handed out 85 meals and have been doing it ever since, Monday-Friday. Today, we are slated to hand out about 1,000-2,000 meals."

The Tandem meal distribution

After partnering with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin and the World Central Kitchen, The Tandem has been able to make an impact on a large scale. For some folks who have been out of work for months, the program has been a blessing -- grateful to be served nourishment with a side of understanding.

"This has helped tremendously," said Doug, who was at Friday's distribution. "It's my wife and I and the grandkids, so we help them out, too."

The Tandem's effort to help the community will not end with the food distribution. They'll scale down a bit, but still be able to serve about 500 meals next Friday, July 10, for those in need.