Hamilton nurse’s ‘selfish’ initiative aims to support local eateries, feed people in need


Published December 2, 2020 at 8:33 am

With everything that 2020 has thrown at our community, the need in just about every sector of society had never been greater.

As the holidays approach, the desire to help where we can and not stretch ourselves thin at the same time is at an all-time high.

So what can one Hamiltonian do to support others in the community while also giving some of our small businesses a boost in one shot?

Julie Freeman, a registered nurse and clinical informatics specialist for Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has devised a unique initiative that will support locally-owned restaurants and help feed families in need this holiday season.

Feast in the Hammer is a “very selfish idea,” according to Freeman who said she wanted to come up with a way to help support the Hamilton food scene.

“I love the restaurants in Hamilton — old and new — they’re doing exciting things,” she told IntheHammer. “I really want them to stay open when all of this (COVID-19) is over.”

Like most of us, Freeman struggled with her desire to support local businesses and still find the resources to help members of the community in need, particularly this time of year. It is from this desire to do the most good that the idea for Feast in the Hammer came from.

“It just made sense to try to support restaurants as best I could and support people in the community,” she said.

How does Feast in the Hammer work?

Freeman has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to purchase, at full price, meals from local restaurants.

She will then deliver them to families herself. Her plan is, starting next week, and if finances allow, to start delivering upwards of 30 meals a night from Mondays to Thursdays up until (and possibly beyond) Christmas Eve.

“I might have bitten off more than I can chew,” Freeman joked. “But I have a lot of family and friends who are willing to help out if I need it.”

So far, Freeman has enlisted Merk Snack Bar, which has devised a special menu, One Duke and Duke’s Pub Pasta and Pizzeria, and is waiting to hear from other popular local eateries, to provide meals.

“When Julie called and told me about her idea it was very aligned with our small local business philosophy; when you can help do it,” said Zig Misiak, co-owner of the two Duke’s restaurants, in an emailed statement.

“A ‘nurse’, I thought, with all she’s done and still going above and beyond — well I couldn’t resist. Tyler, my son, who’s very hands-on at both places agreed and we decided to apply our name, our contacts, our experiences to help her help others.”

Freeman decided to hold off deliveries on weekends to avoid overtaxing participating restaurants during what is typically their busy time.

Freeman has been able to identify members of the community who could use this kind of support through the help of local food banks and a connection at The Good Shepherd.

She also plans to deliver to residents at the Mark Preece House as well as to families of frontline workers who don’t have time to make and enjoy a meal with their loved ones.

How can you help?

Firstly, for those who are unable to support the program by giving money, can do so by helping to get the word out.

Freeman says that sharing the Feast in the Hammer Facebook or Instagram page.

To donate, visit the Feast in the Hammer GoFundMe or Freeman says she’s accepting eTransfers to [email protected].

For those who make a donation in someone else’s name, Freeman has volunteered to fill out and personally (or via mail – time permitting) deliver a card noting the donation.

Restaurants looking to participate can reach out through social media or the email listed above.

“Growing up here (in Hamilton) we didn’t — a lot of families — didn’t have a lot,” she said.

“Every year, though, my parents were able to make [the holidays] amazing. I have the happiest childhood memories of this time of year and if I can help people have just a little bit of that, that’s pretty exciting to me.”

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