52 step up to Feed the Need

Charleston Grill General Manager Mickey Bakst

A coalition of 52 restaurants, caterers, hoteliers and culinary schools will take weekly turns feeding the Lowcountry's hungry in a new effort being announced today.

Charleston Chefs Feed the Need is the brainchild of Charleston Grill General Manager Mickey Bakst, who has been developing the initiative since December. The plan is for participating restaurants or entities to prepare meals for a different soup kitchen or food provider one day a week.

Four nonprofit agencies will be the conduits: Crisis Ministries, Tricounty Family Ministries, East Cooper Meals on Wheels and Neighborhood House.

Bakst said Tuesday he hopes 400 meals a week will be served, or 20,000 plus in the first year.

"For me, the best part is the awareness we hope to generate about this issue. It's not just about the homeless, it's about people who can't feed their families," he said.

Lowcountry Food Bank will help with coordinating the agencies and keeping a spreadsheet but will not function as an umbrella organization, Executive Director Jermaine Husser said.

"We're very excited about what Mickey is trying to accomplish. We think this is going to be groundbreaking, and we're just to pleased to be a part of it," Husser said.

Food or monetary donations for the effort should go through Crisis Ministries, he said.

The businesses and schools volunteering their time also are picking up the tab, Bakst said.

"The restaurants are not asking anything from people, they are doing this on their own. It's going to cost every restaurant out of their pocket," Bakst said. "I hope people will ask not only what they can do to help, but get out and support the restaurants."

The announcement will be at noon at the Riviera Theatre, 225 King St.