In a time when hugs are discouraged, “Food Hugs” are encouraged. Jenna Arcidiacono, owner of Amore Trattoria Italiana in Comstock Park, started Food Hugs, a 501c3 charitable organization with goals of spreading kindness, hope, and smiles through yummy meals in a time when many are struggling.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Arcidiacono has led multiple efforts to support those in West Michigan. She started spreading Food Hugs – meals, desserts, and even flowers — to frontline workers in health care, education, public safety and more, shortly after the pandemic began in 2020.
In addition, she started “Tipback Thursday,” where she asks the community to send in money, via Venmo, and she chooses local restaurants to award large tips of $1,000 and more. Since mid-January, Tipback Thursday has raised more than $42,000 in tips to local restaurant workers.
Last week, Arcidiacono and her crew put together meals for Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Psych Med Unit third shift staff in honor of a friend who tragically took his own life four years ago. This young man’s parents wanted to remember their son, an aspiring chef, by paying it forward for Tipback Thursday, and encouraged others to donate.
“We have all gone through the same thing this year and we recognize the struggles,” said Arcidiacono, who was recently named Grand Rapids’ Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation. “It has been a lot, and to bring relief and a smile feels amazing.”
Mercy Health Saint Mary’s thanks Arcidiacono and Food Hug donors for their kindness!