While we’re sure Santa is doing his best this holiday season, when so many are in need of a warm meal and a bit of good cheer, the Colorado heroes, restaurants, and nonprofits below are stepping up to help, too, feeding neighbors who need it and propping up favorite community eateries. Here, eight initiatives working to make the season a little brighter for those around us, and how you can help, too.

It’s good news/bad news for Feeding Colorado Heroes, the nonprofit started by local PR firm Prim Communications last spring to deliver restaurant meals to frontline healthcare workers. The bad news is that so many months later, the pandemic still rages on and this kind of service is still needed. But the good news is that Feeding Colorado Heroes has delivered more than 5,000 meals to hospital workers and supported 55 local restaurants in the process. If you want to help secure future deliveries to bolster both industries, visit its fundraising page.

After a homeless neighbor came into the Preservery to purchase one of their $6 to-go burrito specials, owner Whitney Ariss devised a plan to help feed more neighbors in need. She started selling Giving Meals, a “get a meal, give a meal” daily special where, for $12, customers can purchase a meal for themselves, and then the Preservery will give the same meal to one of their neighbors experiencing hunger and/or homelessness. Giving Meals offerings will change daily—the menu could include burritos, soups, stews, or mashed potato bowls—but whatever’s available will always be hearty and made with care.

Blake Street industry bar/restaurant Pony Up is feeding 25 to 75 hospitality industry workers affected by the closures three days each week through December—if not longer. It’s working with favorite liquor brands (like Tito’s vodka, which donates to the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Angel Relief Fund for every Rosy Cheeks to-go cocktail Pony Up sells this month) to fund these meals, along with relying on donated meals from customers. If you want to help, $10 buys a meal for a laid-off worker, made either by the bar or by a visiting pop-up chef. “We’re going to do it for as long as we can get meals donated,” owner Angela Neri says, “because we don’t know when this is going to end.”

Ms. Betty’s Cooking and Fireside at Five have teamed up for Mile High Holiday Haircuts, a spiffy initiative to provide free haircuts and 1,500 meals for community members at Warren Village, Mean Street Ministry, Crossroads Shelter, and Lambuth Family Center. Help them meet their fundraising goal of $3,000, or, if you’ve got mad shearing skills, volunteer as a barber to give out some holiday haircuts.

Colorado breweries and distilleries contributed coloring pages to RadCraft’s downloadable coloring book, which benefits the James Beard Foundation’s Open for Good campaign. Color away your pandemic stress with Laws Whiskey House’s geometric patterns, Lone Tree Brewing Co.’s tree-filled motif, and Bonfire Brewing’s intricate design. Download the $5.50 book here, and all proceeds go toward helping independent restaurants survive the COVID crisis.

A spread from Big Red F’s Lasagna Project. Photo courtesy of Big Red F

Big Red F Restaurants guests have sponsored 2,000-plus meals and counting for food-insecure folks through the group’s BRFeeds Our Community initiative. When ordering from the Lasagna Project at Jax (or from other Big Red F concepts, including the Post Brewing Co., Lola Coastal Mexican, or any of their Project pop-ups), you have the option to donate money to send a tray of lasagna to the food insecure via non-profit partners—like We Don’t Waste in Denver—in each of Big Red F’s markets.  The group has also partnered with Friends in Weed, which is raising money to fuel the struggling restaurant industry while also feeding those that could use a little assistance. Friends in Weed will give the dollars it  raises to Big Red F and Culinary Creative (which includes Bar Dough and Señor Bear restaurants) for the double benefit of re-employing laid off restaurant workers and providing free meals to the community.

Table 6 makes thanking nurses and supporting the restaurant easy with its Buy Dinner for a Nurse program. Here’s how it works: you pay $25, Table 6 cooks and hands off the meal, and a nurse gets to enjoy a three-course dinner. It’s delicious win-win for everyone involved.

Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy is a freelance writer and ice cream fanatic living in Broomfield.