Program allows food donations for Middletown essential workers

Downtown Middletown Inc. has introduced a program to honor health care workers, first responders and essential employees by providing them with free meals.

In the “Lifting UP from Downtown” initiative, the community can say thank you with a suggested donation of $5 per meal.

“This is an easy way to lend a helping hand and show your support by providing a hot, delicious meal for our health care workers and essential employees that go above and beyond, each and every day, for the health of our community,” said Jeff Payne, executive director of Downtown Middletown Inc.

Private businesses and individuals are teaming up to match the donated $5 meals, making an even bigger impact. To donate a meal, go to The program relies on donations.

“It’s important that we get people to show their support by making the donations or contributions to this effort,” Payne said.

Restaurants in downtown Middletown will alternate making food. Food and a card will be delivered to each recipient organization/business with the names of those who donated meals. Atrium Medical Center, for example, received meals from Mockingbird’s Café. Mike Stafford of Northwestern Mutual provided the business match.

“We are an organization that promotes and focuses all of our efforts on the revitalization of downtown Middletown, and I think this pandemic situation has put us all in the same boat. So, if we’re able to do things for downtown Middletown, we also want to do things for the Middletown community as a whole, so this was an effort to reach out and thank those who are on the front lines - our first responders, nurses, and other health care workers who are dealing with this situation every day that they go in,” Payne said.

The program began in May and several deliveries have been made to local organizations and businesses.

“We have all been impacted in some way by this challenge of dealing with this pandemic. We have had to stay home, and we have not been able to go to places we normally enjoy going to. Some of us have had to work from home. Some of us have lost our jobs because of the shutdown. And some of us have had to work even harder because of the shutdown,” Payne said.

Hopefully, Lifting UP from Downtown will be one of those positive aspects that will be remembered, he said.

“Not only were people put in difficult or challenging situations, but we saw people come together and try to help each other out,” said Payne.

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