Hudson’s Feed a Neighbor founder on a holiday mission

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Hudson’s Feed a Neighbor founder on a holiday mission
Steve Dembro smiles for a photo behind the counter. (Photo/Caroline Gordon)

HUDSON – Steve Dembro, owner of Stevie’s Back Road Cafe & Catering and founder of Feed a Neighbor, is on a mission to make sure every family in Central Massachusetts can enjoy a warm Thanksgiving meal this year.

“There are people with cupboards that have nothing in them. How do we solve that problem? The only way we solve that problem is if we do something,” Dembro said.

When the pandemic struck in 2020, Dembro was forced to close the cafe, leaving a freezer filled with food that would go to waste.

Dembro and his staff inventoried all of the food and realized they had meat worth 1,800 meals that he did not want to throw away. He used the meat to create meals to sell for $5 that would serve as his “seed money” for when the restaurant could open again.

However, when Dembro began to advertise the $5 meals, he said people “came from everywhere” to pick up the meals to donate them to a neighbor in need.

That’s when Dembro decided to provide free meals for people who could not afford food due to the pandemic.

‘I am going to do everything … to help them’

Within the first three months of Feed a Neighbor, Dembro donated 9,200 meals. When COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and he was able to reopen Stevie’s Cafe, he continued to provide free meals to those in need.

Two-and-half years later, Dembro still supplies free meals to families who suffer from food insecurity as well as selling the $5 meals to local organizations such as the Rotary Club, which then also donates the meals.

Dembro receives donations for Feed a Neighbor through businesses and “kind-hearted people.”

However, when there is not enough money in the donation fund to pay for the food, he said Stevie’s Cafe covers the cost. But the food pantry makes food donations, and the Hudson Police and Fire Departments help deliver the meals.

Dembro said local and state institutions that help families with food insecurity ask him to provide free meals to families in need until they receive SNAP Benefits.

“We don’t charge them anything. The Feed a Neighbor program takes over,” he said.

According to Dembro, Feed a Neighbor provided 700 meals to those in need for Thanksgiving last year, but he predicts the number of those in need of food may be higher this year due to the state of the economy.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know how many people we are going to feed, but all I know is that we already got volunteers who have already signed up,” he said.

Dembro added, “If we [Feed a Neighbor] can play a little part in keeping people going, so that they can focus on what they need to do to get out of their situation, I am going to do everything I can do to help them, it’s that simple.”

For more information on Feed a Neighbor, visit https://feedaneighbor.org/.

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