“The partnership is a natural fit for all organizations involved,” said Leslie Collins, President/CEO, Scranton Tomorrow. “It strengthens an already successful project assisting those who are facing food insecurity in Scranton, while also supporting local restaurants facing economic challenges during COVID-19.”
The Electric City Connection is a collaborative effort between The University of Scranton, Scranton Tomorrow, and Friends of the Poor. Developed by The University of Scranton, the project was first launched at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Members of the community contribute $15 donations to fund the purchase of gift cards and meals from local restaurants. Friends of the Poor distributes the gift cards to Scranton families in need, and participating restaurants provide meals to facilities that are home to senior citizens and members of underserved communities in Scranton.
To date, the project has raised more than $55,000, including $20,000 from a Scranton Area Community Foundation grant. These funds have been directed to 22 participating restaurants to provide more than 4,000 meals to individuals facing food insecurity in Scranton. "The individuals and families who are receiving meals are so extremely grateful that someone cares about them, and that they are getting the food they need,” said Sr. Ann Walsh, Assistant Director, Friends of the Poor. “It makes them feel special that their fellow community members are reaching out and want to help."
Julie Schumacher Cohen, Assistant Vice President for Community Engagement and Government Affairs at The University of Scranton, echoed those sentiments. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause economic hardship, made even more difficult in these winter months. Having the Electric City Connection project and Lackawanna College’s Rally for Restaurants team up is a creative way to leverage partnerships and address community needs at a critical time,” she said.
Rally for Restaurants is a partnership between Lackawanna College, the City of Scranton, and Scranton Tomorrow that launched in September of 2020. The program invites local chefs to work with culinary arts students and use the facilities at Lackawanna College’s student-operated restaurant, 409 on Adams, on select dates. All proceeds benefit participating restaurants. Rally for Restaurants generated significant revenue for local restaurants in the fall, and reservations are now available for select dates, February 11 through May 6. During this semester, guests will have the opportunity to make a contribution to the Electric City Connection at the end of their dining experience. The Electric City Connection contributions will be directed to participating restaurants to provide fresh meals for individuals and families facing food insecurity, seniors, and other community members in need.
“Lackawanna College and our culinary students are excited to expand Rally for Restaurants by joining the Electric City Connection to help our food insecure neighbors, and to continue helping our local restaurants during COVID-19,” said Stephanie Decker, Associate Vice President of Social and Economic Impact, Lackawanna College.