The Munch Company, a community staple that has provided deli-style fresh sandwiches for decades, is now working overtime to provide healthcare workers some well-needed ( and well-deserved ) sandwich support.
Michelle Hammond, who has run this iteration of Munch since 2017, and her team have been supplying the South Pasadena Care Center staff, many of whom have taken on the seemingly insurmountable task of containing and handling the epicenter of COVID-19 outbreaks in South Pasadena.
Noting that she was inspired by the “generosity of the residents of South Pasadena” Michelle decided to contribute to the cause by matching the donations her business received to cover meals assembled in-house at Munch Co. to feed both shifts at the center for nurses and staff over the span of several days.
The idea was sparked, says Michelle, when “One of my neighbors had seen me going back and forth — she wanted to do something to support me, but she also wanted to do something to contribute to the community, so she gave me a $200 donation to ‘make whatever (off of the menu)’ and give it to the frontline workers.”
As many local businesses continue to struggle to adjust to a drastically changed financial model, the landscape during rushes is quite barren literally and figuratively — so much so that as local shops rethink strategies to stay afloat, many accept or actively seek out donations from backers big and small. “ A lot of the government aid hasn’t really trickled down to small businesses,” says Hammond, “so the only way we’re all getting by is through community and individual support.”
Working with a bare minimum skeleton crew — just two people — Michelle, longtime employee, Meg Dohert, and her friend, Monica, work tirelessly to balance out the immense amount of orders, both charged and gratis, while still requiring a considerable stream of revenue to keep their doors open. In order to accommodate the demand Michelle decided to cast a line out on social media, seeing if anyone would be willing to donate to the operation.
“It was a very large order, which I couldn’t really handle because we’re short-staffed.” said an almost out-of-breath Michelle, as Meg continued to assemble sandwiches, “ We couldn’t handle that daily so what I did was post it online, and soon enough more people were coming in with donations”. As a way to maximize the amount of meals that could be donated, Hammond has also decided to discount prices on the items prepared from donations.
Despite the daily struggles, the campaign has been met with great enthusiasm from everyone involved, a driving force that helps keeps spirits high and perseverance persistent. “Most everyone is really excited to help support a local business,” says Michelle, who sees this as a way to reciprocate to those who keep everyone safe, “ (its) a way to help support the healthcare workers, especially since (the) center has been hit so hard. “
When asked about whether or not this would become a frequent endeavor, Michelle stated that she would gladly continue to do this “more and more” but that the scope of the operation might exceed that of the Munch Company in the near future, saying, “ I think we might do it outside of Munch and try to incorporate more restaurants.”
To those who are interested in donating, Michelle and her colleague have set up an instagram page called @southpashomegrown, which features pop-up shops and collaborations with other businesses. “It’ll be more of a support center for the communities, businesses, and restaurants,” say Michelle while emphasizing her use of popular hashtags #strongertogether and #southpastogteher.
As Michelle is appreciative of the level of generosity on display, she opines that “Not everyone can make masks, so this is another way to show your love and support, “ parting with the words, “Find other ways to get creative and we’ll get through this.”
The Munch Company can also be found online on their Facebook page.
News Photographer Esteban Lopez contributed to this story