Innovative Project Supports Struggling Restaurants

For Six Weeks by Purchasing Meals for Food Insecure Individuals and Familiesa

For the next six weeks, three dozen Spokane area restaurants will be providing meals to the Women & Children’s Free Restaurant food distribution event as a result of matching donations by community partners. The ‘Extend the Love’ project funds restaurant meals purchased from struggling bars and restaurants to be given out at the Women’s & Children’s Free Restaurant Grocery and Prepared Food distribution event each Tuesday and Wednesday.

In December, Spokane actress Sydney Sweeney donated $12,000 to launch the 12 Days of Christmas project, which supported 12 Spokane area restaurants by purchasing restaurant meals for 12 Spokane shelters. Inspired by Sweeney’s donation, LifeWise Health Plan of Washington, and Washington Trust Bank each matched her donation. Spokane County also allocated $12,000 for a total of $36,000 in new contributions. The new funds are used to “Extend the Love” beyond the holidays and through February with meals created by local restaurants struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic and served to food insecure individuals and families.

Meal distributions for the ‘Extend the Love’ project began January 12 and will extend through Valentine’s Day to February 17. The meals will be delivered to the Women & Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen. Each participating restaurant will receive $1,000 to create 60-65 meals; at least 350 meals will be made and delivered to the kitchen each week, for a total of 2400 meals for the duration of the project.

The project has been a partnership of Sydney Sweeney, along with Spokane County, City of Spokane, US Foods, Visit Spokane, and Washington Hospitality Association.

“It’s so amazing to see the impact ’12 Days of Christmas’ has had on families and the

hospitality community,” said Spokane native and actress Sydney Sweeney. “I’m beyond appreciative to Washington Trust Bank, LifeWise Health Plan, the Spokane County, and WA Hospitality Association for their donations to keep this initiative going through the holidays. I’m so proud to see Spokane’s community coming together in the spirit of giving and I’d also like to thank US Food for providing the deliveries for those in need.”

“Since March, our restaurant provided over one million free meals to food insecure families – ten times our pre-pandemic objective for 2020,” said Lisa Diffley, Executive Director for Women & Children’s Free Restaurant. “Our community’s willingness to pool its strength and resources to keep families nourished is the bedrock of our mission and supports our ability to continue at this pace. This collaboration defines our community.”

The meals come at a time when some Spokane residents–many of them families–are struggling with food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As the industry which serves community, bars and restaurants are also struggling with economic impacts and the closure of indoor dining brought by the pandemic. More than 120 restaurants have closed in Spokane County since the pandemic brought shutdowns in March of last year.

The Extend the Love project will cease to accept donations, but contributions to support the Women & Children’s Free Restaurant and Community Kitchen can be made at Contributions to help employees in the hospitality industry can be made at