Jefferson Awards for Public ServiceBy Sharon Chin

by Sharon Chin and Jennifer Mistrot

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A chef and an investor came up with a partnership that’s a recipe for giving: they’re feeding hundreds of needy families a day during the coronavirus pandemic.

Even before San Francisco sheltered-in-place, Italian restaurant Che Fico Alimentari decided to shift to take-out only. Chef and co-owner David Nayfeld remembered making the announcement to protect employees from the spread of COVID-19.

“We need to listen to our hearts, and that means closing our restaurant now,” Nayfeld told his restaurant’s investors.

Hours later when the city ordered the shelter-in-place, Che Fico investor Dick Costolo offered this idea: “I told David, ‘Look, we’ll donate $2,000 a day every day which at $50 a meal pays for a lot of meals,'” said Costolo.

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Che Fico Family Meal was born. Besides paid takeout orders, the Divisadero Street restaurant also would offer free meals to feed those impacted by the pandemic.

“The people who need meals and have a loss of income need them just as much on Day 90 as they do on Day 1,” Costolo explained.

The former Twitter CEO publicized the effort. More sponsors flowed in including Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

Che Fico Family Meal gives away 300 dinners a night. Each order of appetizers, an entree, and dessert can feed two to three people. Folks can order online or by phone.

The program has fed more than 50,000 people like Portia Osborne, who comes weekly. “When I’m eating I feel the dedication and dignity of this establishment to feed us during this time,” said Osborne.

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And the touching testimonials feed Costolo and Nayfeld’s spirits:

“We’ve gotten emails and letters from those people saying, ‘You know, last week I was desperate and I really didn’t know where my next meal is coming from. This week I feel OK, and I want to donate a meal to someone else who feels like they’re desperate,'” said Nayfeld.

“That’s the kind of thing that gets you excited about doing more,” said Costolo. “We’ll keep doing it as long as the community needs it.”

“Every time one of these letters comes, it makes me feel like we’re doing it for the right reason and we’re doing the right thing,” said Nayfeld.

So for feeding those in need through Che Fico Family Meal, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Dick Costolo and David Nayfeld.

You can donate, sign up for a free meal, or purchase meals at cheficofamilymeal.com. You can call in orders at 415-416-6980.

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