The Tzedakah Project is a new nonprofit from the folks behind Babs Midtown restaurant that is working to diminish the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Atlanta.
“The goal of The Tzedakah Project is to help support those in need so they are able to grow and thrive and ultimately give back to the community,” said Randy D. Adler, the group’s founder.
Through a series of programs, the Tzedakah Project is providing meals, employment and support to the community. Its first project, Babs on Bikes, provided meals for vulnerable communities and to the students who delivered those meals, employing students and medical residents that have had classes and rotations cut short due to the pandemic. Their second large undertaking, the Elephant Initiative, is aimed at supporting independent contractors out of work during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It can be extremely difficult for some people to ask for help, so we hope to contribute in a way that makes it easy and convenient and makes them still feel humanized,” said Adler.
The Tzedakah Project’s latest initiative is called the Tiger Lily Memorial, which will kick off this summer with the goal of creating a seasonal gardening program that provides community members with materials and education to grow their own food and herbs at home. The project was inspired by Adler’s mother, Marcia Adler, who died in May.
“There is a saying about ‘give a man a fish, he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime,’ and we want to take it one step further. Instead of just teaching him, we’d like to educate him on how to teach others so he can pass on the skill,” said Katie Lewis, executive director of the Tzedakah Project.
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Chef Deborah VanTrece and her team plan to hand out free meals to those in need from her Huff Road restaurant on Thursday, May 14. The event is part of the Elephant Initiative from The Tzedakah Project, founded by Babs Midtown owner Randy Adler in order to help communities in need during the pandemic. The Elephant Initiative provides meals to contractors, gig workers, sole proprietors, and others who now find themselves out of work due to COVID-19. Thursday’s event takes place at Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. People must register online to arrange for a meal and pick-up time. A sold out event takes place May 12 at Elmyriachi in Kirkwood. New free meal event dates should be posted online later this week.
The Tzedakah Project, a new non-profit from the folks behind Babs Midtown, has launched its latest fundraiser—The Elephant Initiative.
The Elephant Initiative is aimed at supporting independent contractors out of work during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Elephants are one of the most majestic and loyal creatures in the animal kingdom,” according to a landing page for the initiative.
“With this initiative, we want to support and honor our out-of-work independent contractors and sole proprietors that don’t qualify for state unemployment benefits as they may be struggling during this time. We constantly rely on them to make us “look good” in everyday life; from the hairdressers and nail technicians to event staff (including florists, caterers, wedding planners, and tent installers) and more. We want to provide assistance to the behind the scenes teams are often left behind yet are truly essential in our lives.”
Babs Restaurant Owner Randy D Adler has launched The Tzedakah Project, a non-profit providing “tools and support to the community, enriching the lives of the recipients and encouraging them to practice the tenets of giving.”
The Tzedakah Project’s first initiative is “Babs on Bikes” which is designed to “assist multiple needs including employing students/medical residents that had classes and rotations cut short as well as providing healthy, sustainable food to local neighbors who are unable to leave their residence.”
The program also provides in-kind meals for healthcare workers, the elderly and those at risk for or suffering from COVID-19. As “payment,” the students receive complimentary meals for themselves as well as any tips earned from deliveries.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
April 3, 2020 | Ligaya Figueras | https://cutt.ly/ajcarticle
On April 1, his Midtown restaurant celebrated its 16th anniversary, but there were no customers present for a party. Still, the career chef was upbeat, clear in his vision for weathering the chaos caused by COVID-19.
Since the pandemic disrupted the restaurant’s operation, Adler’s customers and friends have reached out, asking how they can help. Using their financial donations, Adler launched the Tzedakah Project, finding ways to put people to work while simultaneously feeding folks in need and instilling a sense of community. He is in the midst of setting it up as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit.
Tzedakah, he explained, is a Hebrew word meaning “justice” or “righteousness.” It often is translated as “charity,” but carries the sense of an ethical obligation. I believe that there needs to be a response of how you get people on their feet. Not just feed them,” Adler said. “Tzedakah is ‘giving quietly.’ This is not a GoFundMe. This is Go Fund Us.”
One of the first Tzedakah Project initiatives was to create Babs on Bikes. Babs always offered takeout, but never its own delivery. Now, three college students pedal Babs food to Midtown customers, as well as in-kind meals for the neighborhood elderly and medically at-risk, and health care workers. The students walk away with two Babs meals of their own, as well as any gratuities they collect.
“We’re thrilled to be supporting students with work and food and a sense of community,” Adler said.
Adler began adjusting his operation weeks ago. “I felt at the end of February that there was going to be this massive lurch. The signs were there,” he said. Adler began watching his cash flow closely, and started shifting his product inventory to include more items that would freeze well.
Much of Babs’ daily specialty menu, posted the night before on the restaurant’s Facebook page, falls into what Adler calls “freezer to fridge.” Soups like vegan vegetable and barley are portioned into quart containers and frozen. Matzo balls are packaged separately from the chicken soup, so that patrons either can reheat them together in a pot, or freeze them separately and use when needed. Chicken salad (delicious!) is packaged separately from the bun. Both can go in the freezer. Customers even can purchase eggs from Babs. What they’ll get are eggs that have been cracked, whipped, portioned into containers and frozen.
Plenty of items on the specials menu are in keeping with the restaurant’s focus as a breakfast-lunch-brunch spot. A recent menu included blueberry French toast with eggs, potato and bacon; quiche with shrimp and vegetables; and the Egg Slut — a brioche bun slathered with Sriracha mayonnaise, scrambled eggs and cheese, plus bacon or a sausage patty, for an upcharge. And, there are brunchy, bubbly cocktails to-go, like blood orange mimosas and bellinis.
The dessert lineup is not only filled with sweet treats, but also speaks to resourcefulness, such as a tiramisu made with pancake batter.
“When life gives you pancakes, make tiramisu,” Adler joked.
In all seriousness, Adler spoke of his gratitude for the generosity of the client base he has amassed at Babs, and in his 40-year culinary career, including time in the catering business. He’s proud that he was able to pay his 10-person staff their full wages through March 15. And, he’ll keep plugging ahead with his current three-person team.
“Every day is a new day, and uncharted water,” he said. “How are things? They’re great. They have to be.”