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Salem’s Groom Construction has teamed up with nonprofit Root to provide emergency meals for area organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In their Salem headquarters and professional kitchen, Root alumni and staff are preparing meals, funded by Groom, for agencies serving the homeless, youth in foster care, formerly homeless youth, and individuals with disabilities. These organizations include Lifebridge North Shore, Northeast ARC, Plummer Youth Promise, North Shore Community Development Coalition and the YMCA Grace Child Development Center.

Groom first approached Root, which provides food service training to youths in need, in early April to ask if they would prepare a dinner for clients at Lifebridge North Shore, a Salem-based homeless shelter. “By using Root to prepare the meal, we were helping two essential organizations that are serving those in distress during this time,” said Dave Groom, principal of Groom Construction. “The initial meal went so well that we asked Root if they could do more.”

This partnership has enabled Root to provide over 420 nutritious and wholesome meals to date to people in need. With the help of volunteers, these packaged meals have been hand delivered to organizations all over the North Shore.

In early March, Root suspended its youth training program in the culinary arts due to the pandemic and within a week was able to redirect their resources and begin producing meals for people in crisis, while employing graduates of their program. Since March 20, they have provided food for over 5,400 people, including older adults in senior housing and school-age children, and they have been able to employ Root alumni for over 400 hours.

“Lifebridge North Shore has been able to provide meals to hundreds of vulnerable members of our community because of the partnership between Groom Construction and Root. To see this kind of generosity and thoughtfulness during these times is both touching and inspirational,” said Jason Etheridge, Executive Director of Lifebridge North Shore Root has been instrumental in making sure that those most in need are fed, and that speaks volumes of its commitment to our communities.”

Root’s head chef and instructor, Sam Hunt, said, “Since Root opened its doors, we have wanted to include community meals as part of our efforts. Partnering with Groom has helped us to do that and allows us to feed those who need it most.”

Root also continues to check in with their trainees and graduates to provide support and guidance, and in some cases, food. M. Scott Knox, Root’s executive director, said, “Although our training program is on hold, Root is still a lifeline for many people and we are committed to getting our community through this difficult time.”

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