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Seattle catering company pivots to serving community during pandemic

Since late March, Gourmondo has served close to 300,000 meals for those in need. #k5evening

SEATTLE — Since Gourmondo first launched in 1996, the founder says she's always made giving back a priority.  

In fact, prior to COVID-19, customers could choose to purchase a Giving Box. They are essentially lunches, that when purchased, benefit selected charities.

One dollar per box sold is donated, with a minimum donation of $300 per month for each cause. 

Gourmondo catering expanded its philanthropic reach in late March when Covid-19 brought their thriving business to a halt. 

"I came to work on Monday and by Wednesday, 48 hours, we lost 80 percent of our business," explained Alissa Leinonen, the CEO, and Founder of Gourmondo.  

She and her team, including Chefs Tyler Hefford-Anderson and Kevin Pemoulie immediately put their heads together for a survival plan. 

"Our wheelhouse is catering to groups. What does that look like, what does the future of group dining look like; and how can we innovate to get food to people, knowing not a lot of people are getting together in large groups," said Chef Pemoulie.  

Leinonen knew this would be a defining moment for the company. 

And when Amazon reached out about partnering to serve meals to residents of the King County Housing Authority, she knew it was the right move. 

For Gourmondo, one good idea turned into many more.  The company began partnering with other corporations to provide meals to more people.  Youth experiencing homelessness, Seattle Public School children, and frontline healthcare workers. 

"It really was a great opportunity to find meaning in all this.  When we can't see our own parents, to provide meals for others was special," said Leinonen. 

Meanwhile, the Gourmondo team stayed busy innovating what catering during a pandemic could look like. 

They created a Stock the Fridge Box,  summer grilling kits, three flights of creative cocktails, and most recently, a subscription service for people working from home who want lunch delivered.

They also unveiled a Party in a Box, where people can order hors d'oeuvres.  It also has various entrees and desserts that people can order for virtual gatherings. 

"Even though it's through a computer, there's still nothing like camaraderie around a table, even if you are at the table by yourself enjoying other people's company virtually; you are still getting that camaraderie of enjoying a meal together, shared Chef Hefford-Anderson.

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