Sonoma Family Meal Feeds Thousands of Fire Victims (VIDEO)


Sonoma Chefs and Foodies Serve Their Community


Heather Irwin & Monique Soltani

A message from Sonoma Family Meal Founder Heather Irwin:

“Last Monday, I spent most of the day on phone calls with emergency non-profit food providers. The news isn’t good. There aren’t enough volunteers, there isn’t enough food, and most of all, money is NOT coming in. I emailed everyone in the Sonoma County restaurant community I know asking that we find a way to bring our combined strength together for our community and ourselves,” writes Heather. “I threw out the idea of starting a Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund where we pay restaurants to cook, putting employees back to work while providing meals for families in need.

This was born from a conversation Heather had with @kyleconnaughton of @singlethreadfarms who started a pilot program with Heather to feed 200 families in need each day when restaurant dining rooms are closed. Heather hit send on the email, and waited for answers. Ideas. Support. Anything.

“My first food angel text came a few hours later from @lisamattsonwine @jordanwinery, saying that John Jordan read the email and wanted to do something significant,” writes Heather. “I ran all the numbers on how many families we need to feed, how many meals per day, how many restaurants we need to keep going through the end of June… I honestly think this unprecedented food insecurity crisis in Sonoma County–fueled by the Coronavirus and all the other economic challenges Sonoma County has faced since the fires–is going to take 3-4 months to get back down to the levels it was before COVID-19. Let’s hope… John Jordan and @johnjordanfoundation donated the first $150,000 we need to get this program off the ground!”

Sonoma Family Meal has started a match drive to reach its goal of $300,000, which will allow this innovative non-profit to pay 20 restaurants and caterers to produce up to 100,000 meals for thousands of seniors and families facing food scarcity in our county over the next four months.

“We have already signed up @gerardspaella, @preferredsonomacaterer, and @figgirl to operate relief kitchens,” writes Heather. “With these additional funds, it will help us continue our efforts in bringing on more relief kitchens and help feed families in our community with the greatest need.”

Please considering donating, however small or large and and share with friends who’d be up to support Sonoma County restaurants and those in our county who rely on community generosity in programs like this in order to be able to feed their families. Click here to donate today

UPDATE: OCTOBER 29, 2019 @ 7AM

Sonoma Family Meal has REACTIVATED during the Kincade wildfires affecting more than 100,000 North Bay residents. DONATE LOCAL via their Go Fund Me

The Bay Area’s best chefs have come together for a good cause. Cooking up healthy food for anyone who needs it.  The relief effort started as a Facebook plea posted by Sonoma County food writer Heather Irwin. The goal now is to provide free, chef-prepared meals to as many people affected by the fires, as long as possible, for as long as there’s a need. Since Oct. 15 Sonoma Family Meal has served more than 50,000 meals and counting.

In this episode of Wine Oh TV, Monique Soltani heads to Santa Rosa and goes in the kitchen with Sonoma Family Meal, an organization that will fill your tummy and fuel your soul.

As of November 1, 2017 the location has changed.

Meal Pick Up Location Changes
Empire College
3035 Cleveland Ave. in Santa Rosa

Meal Preparation Location Changes
Council on Aging
30 Kawana Springs Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

To DONATE or learn more about Sonoma Family Meal check out their website:

Brad Calkins, Executive Director, Visit Santa Rosa

“Now is when we need our drive-market visitors more than ever. Tourism employs 10 percent of our workforce here in Santa Rosa and this is typically our busy season. Visitors are vital to sustaining the large majority of businesses that were undamaged and supporting jobs that will help our community fully recover.

We’re definitely open for business and need visitors now, but it’s not quite business as usual. We ask that people coming to Santa Rosa bring kindness and a sensitivity about what we’ve just experienced.”

People considering a visit to Santa Rosa will have plenty to enjoy. The restaurants, tasting rooms and shops in both the Historic Railroad Square and walkable downtown Courthouse Square were untouched by fire. For beer lovers, Russian River Brewing Co., Third Street Aleworks, Cooperage Brewing Company, Plow Brewing Company, and the new Beer Baron are busy serving local brews. Hundreds of Sonoma County wineries are open, including Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Balletto Vineyards; and on October 21, Paradise Ridge Winery, which lost several buildings on their winery estate, reopened their Kenwood tasting room.

Area attractions, such as the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Safari West wild animal park, were undamaged and will reopen in the coming weeks. Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa’s premier live entertainment venue, was damaged but not destroyed; President and CEO Rick Nowlin assured fans on Facebook that he will keep the public apprised of their projected reopening date.

Photo Credit: Visit Santa Rosa

Photo Credit Sonoma Family Meal


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PUBLISHED DATE: November 1st, 2017 | WINE CATEGORY: News & Events, Videos, Wine Country
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