Although D.C. is slowly opening back up, many residents are still cautious when it comes to entering crowded areas, such as storefronts, due to the pandemic. Those who do brave busy supermarkets are often met with long lines and low-stocked shelves. Businesses in the area have noticed, and some are stepping up to help Washingtonians in their time of need. Enter Occasions Caterers’ Mobile Markets, launched April 15 in order to meet the need for groceries in the city.
“It became pretty clear to us that we have all of the capabilities to [continue to] serve our clients by offering them prepared meals, cooked food, groceries, local bundles of fresh vegetables and things like that,” says Denise Vu, Occasions Caterers’ Senior Director of Marketing and Innovation, of the Mobile Markets effort.
The Mobile Markets allow customers to order groceries online for contact-less pickup from a number of locations on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fresh and local produce, dairy bundles, local beer, wine and spirits, a-la-carte items and pre-made meals are available for purchase. Occasions also provides home delivery on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. In order to protect workers and clients, all purchases must be made in advance. While Occasions traditionally serves clients at larger events, the team aims to provide food security to neighborhoods and people across the district.
“We really wanted to expand beyond our traditional clients, who we usually [cater] dinner parties and weddings and galas for, and really make it about food access in different neighborhoods,” Vu states. “Instead of only doing home delivery, we wanted to do these pop-up, curbside friendly markets in different neighborhoods from Chevy Chase to Brookland, Parkview to Shaw.”
As the weeks have passed, the Occasions team has been able to add more offerings based on feedback from customers. In addition to the fresh and local produce, dairy products, fully prepared meals to reheat and meal kits to cook at home, the team is planning on providing sourdough starters and focaccia supplies after a high number of requests. Occasions is also partnering with LynnVale Studios out of Virginia to include flower bundles in their Friday home deliveries. Vu says that the addition of the flower bundles came from a desire for, “Anything to brighten these days.”
The Mobile Market is connected to Giving Kitchen, the philanthropic arm of Occasions working to help those in D.C. who are most at risk. Sales from the market supports Giving Kitchen, allowing the team to continue feeding immunocompromised people who cant go out and get meals for themselves, at-risk quarantined individuals, front line workers and home-bound seniors living in Wards 7 and 8.
The Giving Kitchen partners with many organizations in the D.C. area that share their passion for fighting food insecurity and promote sustainability, such as N Street Village, DC Greens, Food and Friends and more. A lot of clients don’t even realize that they are helping others in the city through their purchase, and are surprised with a thank you note from Occasions.
“It’s been so rewarding for everyone involved,” Vu says of the impact Giving Kitchen has had. “Your batched cocktail and local veggies are actually helping others.”
Even with all of their projects, Occasions is working to provide the joy of events once again, while complying with health recommendations provided by the government. Their team is working on creating virtual event options, micro home wedding food drop-offs, virtual fundraisers and virtual classes with their chefs and bartenders. With Father’s Day coming up, Occasions is rolling out crab feasts, grill-ready bratwurst and steaks, mahi mahi and more for home delivery to celebrate dads everywhere.
“We’re just having conversations and seeing what everyone needs,” Vu says. “[We’re] trying to develop things that are solutions to the current predicament that can still feel special”
Whether you are looking to avoid the lines at your neighborhood grocery store, get fresh and local foods for your family, or want to celebrate in a safe way, Occasions Caterers’ Mobile Market has you covered.
Visit www.occasionscaterers.com or follow Occasions online @occasionscaterers for up-to-date information on their current offerings. Consider donating to the Giving Kitchen and help feed fellow Washingtonians here.
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