Restaurant Highlight: Dig Food Group
Since Adam Eskin first opened Dig (formerly known as Dig Inn) in 2011, it’s grown into a multifaceted business endeavor that now spans multiple states and involves more than just restaurants. Dig began as a way to provide healthy, locally-sourced meals to guests and simultaneously support family farms in the community. Now, however, Dig has locations in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Rye Brook and Brooklyn, and they deliver across Manhattan and Williamsburg.
On top of building a successful chain of fast-casual restaurants, they’ve undertaken endeavors that necessitated the invention of Dig Food Group. This organization encompasses the restaurant chain as well as Dig Acres Farm, a 12-acre plot in Orange County where they produce their own food. This began as a means to understand more about their friends at the local farms.
To help people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dig Food Group is also putting their considerable resources toward community relief efforts.
Dig Acres Farm Box
At Dig, they’re no stranger to community-supported agriculture (also known as CSA). In the summer of 2019, Dig Acres Farm partnered with FoodKick, a same-day fresh food delivery service, to test out using a farm box to get fresh, organic vegetables into the homes of those who needed it. They opened their restaurants for a similar reason, however the farm box allowed them to reach and help more families.
On March 28th, they relaunched what they’ve dubbed the Dig Acres Farm Box since this pandemic began. Their website describes its contents as “farm-fresh produce from friends of Dig Acres. Selection of 7 – 9 vegetables rotates every Saturday.” Due to the nature of their work, Dig Food Group has connections with many local farmers who, since restaurants all over have shut down, now have an excess of supplies. Many people need these ingredients right now but struggle to find them on grocery shelves. The Dig Acres Farm Box helps local farmers unload and receive compensation for their sudden excess of supplies, and connects them to consumers who need the produce.
They reopened the farm box for two reasons. Firstly, they recognized that many people rely on grocery delivery but cannot find an available time slot on any of the platforms designed for this service. Thus Dig Food Group decided to be that go-between. Secondly they had already planned to reinstate their farm box this coming summer; however, given the pressing nature of COVID-19 and the unpredictable situation that it has thrust many households into, Dig Food Group decided to open the box earlier than planned so that they could do their part supporting the community. They already had the necessary resources, know-how and systems in place, thus they could reinstitute the farm box when people really needed the supplies.
The farm box changes every Saturday. Dig Food Group works with their local suppliers to discover what farmers need to unload that week and then design the box accordingly. They list what’s inside underneath the “GET A BOX” button on their website so customers can decide exactly what they need and when they need it.
The box has already had a major impactful on local communities, so much so that, although they began the endeavor in New York, as of April 24th Dig Food Group announced plans to expand their efforts to cover Philadelphia and Boston as well. Already, farmers and farmers market delivery companies are reaching out to see if they can join the effort. In times like these, we can never extend enough helping hands.
Dig Feeds is another endeavor started by the Dig Food Group. During this crisis, some families need more than healthy ingredients; some also require meals to get them through these tough times. Thus, Dig Food Group launched Dig Feeds.
According to the website, Dig Feeds aims to “feed people in need during this crisis and beyond. Our farmers and chefs who usually turn vegetables into food for Dig restaurants donate thousands of meals to the people who need them most. 100% of all funds contributed will go to the sourcing, cooking and serving of meals through Dig Feeds.”
People in need can request a meal delivery. Those with the means to do so also have the option to gift a meal to somebody else. Dig Feeds is working hard to accommodate all dietary restrictions and allergies to ensure that they can efficiently and effectively help as many people as possible.
Dig Feeds also launched their “buy a bowl, give a bowl” program to further assist the most vulnerable members of the community. For each order they receive, they also donate a meal to a local hospital, school, homeless shelter, nonprofit, small business or other partner organization in need.
Over the course of this pandemic,, the Dig Food Group has already donated nearly 100K meals to people in need.
Looking toward the future
Dig Food Group has worked tirelessly to support local farms and families struggling because of this virus and the strain it has put on people and businesses alike. They have no plans to slow their relief work while COVID-19 continues to threaten society, and in fact hope to support their local farms, practice community relief efforts and get healthy food on consumers’ tables long after the danger has passed.
Although previous to this pandemic, Dig Food Group’s focus lay in their restaurant chain and organic farm partners, they hope to continue learning about and implementing effective community outreach in the future. As Taylor Lanzet, a member of Dig Food Group, put it: Its not about going back to what we were before, but building a better food system moving forward.
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