Bloomington community steps up to help feed each other during pandemic

(WTHR Photo/Rich Van Wyk)
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WTHR) – One World Enterprises has a number of popular restaurants in the city, which have all done well until last week.

"You guys are so awesome. I love you guys," Evan Turman said as he was handed a bag full of food.

This is certainly not the way they had planned to feed Bloomington.

"We ended up laying off about 100 people nine days ago," Jeff Mease the CEO for One World Enterprises said.

But even though he couldn't employ them, he decided he could feed them.

"They go to the website and select their meals. They put in what they need. It counts on my phone. I confirm the order and they pack it," Volunteer David Koop said as he placed an order on his cell phone.

"I think it's amazing. I'm really proud of these people who are pulling together right now. It's beautiful," Leslie Johnston said after putting the bag of meals into her car.

Then Mease realized other food employees in town were going hungry, so he decided to feed them as well. So now every day from 2 to 4 p.m. they hand out meals.

"My main goal is to tell people we are safe. You are safe. We are safe," Mease said. "You will get fed. You will not run out of food until I run out of food. So we can make this work."

"l've got a two-year-old here that is hungry," Tracy Byl said. "I work at a bar in town so anything they do have to spare is helpful and I appreciate it more than I can ever say."

Lynn Schwartzberg is the General Manager for One World Catering.

"They don't have jobs. They lived on tips," Schwartzberg said. "They will struggle until this virus runs it's course and we are up and running again."

But these laid off workers who are now volunteering did not stop there.

Last night, they ran 60 meals to Monroe County Hospital. Wednesday night they expect to take 150 more.

So the question is how much longer can he do this.

"As long as it takes," he tells me.

There is a quote on the theater marquee downtown that explains this. It quotes Mr. Rogers.

“When I was a boy I would see scary things in the news. My mother would say to me 'look for the helper. You will always find people who are helping,'” it reads.

We found them in Bloomington.