My mind will always wander to the Glo whenever I hear of lemons and making lemonade. In April 2020, GloBar Juice & Smoothie Restaurant was forced to close its popular Galesburg, IL eatery, like so many others as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. We were already seeing a deepening in the loss of paychecks, widening food insecurity, especially for children, and a real need for hot meals at all ages. GloBar, though, as a result of the work of two industrious women, would not be just another casualty of the pandemic.
As they did away with assets and inventory, GloBar’s co-owner Angelica Mangieri and friend Lisa Revel knew there would be other restauranteurs with excess food concerns. They decided to take the loss on as an adventure. The help of local farmers was enlisted in addition to nearby restaurants who agreed to donate food to their new project. The team solicited business owners, other not for profits and individuals for funds. Volunteers were recruited to help with food prep and other jobs. The result was the birth of Community Glo, an entity designed to feed anyone who might be hungry.
Community Glo is not a first-come, first-served service. People order meals in advance by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with 24 or 48 hours’ notice. Each individual can order up to four meals per person. Hundreds of hot meals are prepared for curbside delivery twice per week. There are no requirements to eat. As Angelica puts it, “If you’re hungry, I’m just going to feed you.”
Never knowing what type of food will be donated and having a wish to ‘educate people on nutrition profiles and different cuisines’ (no hot dogs here), inventing creative menus is the next daily step in Angelica and Lisa’s journey. The co-founders had a wish to make something different for every meal, and the same meal has not been served twice. Trying Mediterranean Poached Fish with Peach Bread Pudding and Balsamic Caramel Sauce will certainly wake your taste buds. Or maybe the Beef Ragu with Polenta or Thai Coconut Salmon Curry would be better if you’re really trying for an educated palate. They happily found there were people who had never tasted polenta before and loved it!
As if Community Glo wasn’t enough, Community Gro was established to sustain the program. Having never grown a garden before, Angelica planted everything she could think of so people could “eat to be happy.” She believes “you can taste the love that is in food.” The plot was started and is maintained as a community garden so people can come to pick what they want, whenever they want.
I asked Angelica if there was anything she could tell us to help another group just getting started. Her answer was to “realize whatever amount of time you thought it would take, double it. Be patient and stay true to yourself, knowing what you know to be authentic – and that sometimes you just have to be the pioneer.”
Thank you for pioneering ladies. You certainly know how to make a great lemonade!