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COVID Pandemic: San Francisco Restaurateurs Provide Meals And Help Filipino-American Owned Businesses

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A pair of San Francisco restaurateurs facing challenges during the pandemic cooked up an idea to help Filipino-American owned businesses and feed their community at the same time.

Jason Angeles and business partner Ronnie Taylor saw their catering calendar collapse with the COVID-19 lockdown.

"All of our contracts, all of our booked events came to a screeching halt," Angeles said.

The pair, whose businesses include IVSF Catering and SSFChickenbox, met with other business owners and the nonprofit Kultivate Labs back in March.

"We were all sitting together brainstorming, how we could kill two birds with one stone, feed the community and also help support local businesses," Taylor said.

Filipinos Feed the Frontlines was born.

The program's collected almost $120,000 in donations so Filipino American-owned food businesses could cook more than 12,000 free meals for frontline, seniors and homeless folks.

It started in San Francisco's South of Market and Excelsior districts.

The program expanded to Filipinotown in Los Angeles and is just beginning in Stockton.

Reina Montenegro, who serves vegan Filipino cuisine at Chef Reina, is one of a dozen chefs who said the program is their lifeline.

"We're doing something great for the community, we're also being stabilized by the funds we get, which is amazing," Montenegro said.

Filipinos Feed the Frontlines also helped Ronnie and Jason's businesses stay afloat for a few months.

Then they got chosen for another program -- the state government-funded Great Plates Delivered, which has them cooking meals six days a week for at-risk senior citizens like Doris Schwab, who's sheltering at home.

"I'm very, very happy and very blessed to have that service," Schwab said.

And because Ronnie and Jason are getting consistent work through Great Plates Delivered, they are now positioned to help save other struggling businesses.

So far, they have donated $24,000 back into Filipinos Feed the Frontlines.

"We made a promise; as long as we're doing good, we're going to help support our peers and the community that helped us initially," Angeles said.

Taylor agreed. "For me, it feels really good," he said.

So for helping lead and support Filipinos Feed the Frontlines this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Jason Angeles and Ronnie Taylor.

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