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Charlottesville chef provides meals for homeless people in Waynesboro during pandemic

WAYNESBORO — With help from a chef in Charlottesville, a Waynesboro shelter was able to cook up a plan to help serve breakfast to those in need.

“An opportunity arose to help some folks in Waynesboro, and we jumped at the chance,” said Harrison Keevil, a chef and chief creative officer at Keevil & Keevil Grocery and Kitchen in Charlottesville.

The restaurant launched #FeedVirginia as a response to COVID-19. The free program uses fresh, locally grown ingredients to provide meals to vulnerable community members using the restaurant’s profits and other donations, Keevil said.

When the pandemic struck, Keevil wanted to help rural communities outside Charlottesville.

April Cranford, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Waynesboro, gave him that opportunity when she agreed to act as a liaison between Keevil and the Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry.

Cranford became involved after she spoke with Rob Belle, the manager of WARM, and learned that homeless guests staying at a Waynesboro hotel were getting lunch and dinner, but not breakfast.

The opportunity came at the right time for Keevil. The 13-year professional chef said he had lost the joy and passion he once felt from his career. The work he’s done with #FeedVirginia has reignited his passion.

“I had lost my way creatively and philosophically when it comes to cooking,” Keevil said. “This allowed me to really center and focus and realize my passion is buying local ingredients and feeding my neighbors.”

Thanks to Keevil’s willingness to cook meals, Belle was able to provide 37 people with breakfast in April and June.

Different churches in Waynesboro will provide breakfast twice a week in July and August, Cranford said. WARM is applying for grants in the hopes of being able to have Keevil & Keevil Grocery and Kitchen provide breakfast September through Thanksgiving, she said.

“The way that nonprofits, churches, businesses, government and individuals collaborate to rise to challenges and respond to crisis is something that I am continually in awe of,” Belle said. “I am humbled every day to be a small part of the community’s efforts.”

Breakfast was delivered to guests each week on Mondays and Thursdays. On those days, Keevil woke up around 2:30 a.m. in order to have the meals ready for delivery by 7:30 a.m.

“I love what I do, so it really isn’t a burden to me in any way, shape or form to wake up early and get to cook for folks,” Keevil said.

Cranford was in charge of picking up the meals in Charlottesville and bringing them to Waynesboro.

“It’s a meaningful way to start my day through mission,” she said.

Keevil has provided 22,368 free meals to community members in Charlottesville and beyond since launching the #FeedVirginia program on March 15. He hopes to continue the program as long as possible.

Those interested in donating can do so on the Keevil & Keevil or Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry websites.


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