Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., an agricultural cooperative owned by more than 700 farmer families, has rolled out the Ocean Spray Farmers for Chefs Alliance, with the goal of helping independent restaurants in its home state of Massachusetts afford rent, utilities and payroll costs. In this endeavor, Ocean Spray is working with Massachusetts Restaurant United (MRU) and the COREcares Foundation, in addition to offering discounts on its cranberry products to support restaurants that are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The alliance is open to public donations and 100% of proceeds will go directly to restaurant operators in need. The grant will kick off with $75,000, and Ocean Spray will match up to an additional $25,000 of donations. Under the partnership, the co-op will also offer discounts on such key products as Craisin dried cranberries and Cranberry Juice Cocktail.
“As a cooperative, Ocean Spray farmers know the importance of building and feeding communities, and share these values with local independent restaurants,” noted Chris O’Connor, VP of marketing at Lakeville-Middleboro, Massachusetts-based Ocean Spray. “Restaurants are of paramount cultural importance in neighborhoods across our commonwealth, and right now they need us. We know that by coming together, we can create real and lasting impact in our community.”
“We are thrilled to partner with our friends at Ocean Spray on this important initiative to provide relief to independent restaurants that are in serious distress due to the global pandemic,” explained Jody Adams, founding member of MRU, formed by more than 500 independent restaurant owners in response to COVID-19, and chef/owner of Porto, Saloniki and Trade in greater Boston. “Over the last six months, restaurants across Massachusetts have been forced to reinvent themselves many times just to keep the doors open. Ocean Spray’s generous commitment to establishing long-term assistance funds will alleviate some of the overwhelming stress that so many local restaurants are currently faced with and will help strengthen restaurants in need now and beyond COVID-19. Massachusetts restaurants won’t survive unless they have relief, and we are grateful to Ocean Spray for being a champion of our industry.”
MRU collaborates with the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which advocates at the national level for restaurants affected by COVID-19. Ocean Spray aims to expand the program into other regions across the U.S.
Applications for the program are being accepted through Dec. 31.