BILLINGS – On a typical weekday morning, you can find Sarah Moyer and her crew at Project Lunch stuffing brown paper bags with essential lunch items.
This past February, Moyer made a leap of faith, and moved into a commercial kitchen space at Miss GiGi's Sweets in downtown Billings.
Little did she know a month later a solid streak of business growth would come to a halt.
“Business plummeted. Things changed,” Moyer said.
The culprit was COVID-19.
“What do I do? How do we adapt? How do I pay my employees?”
Putting her employees first, Moyer took out a loan, and the answer to her questions came to her when Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced the closing of public schools.
“At 5:30 that night, we headed to Costco and just started buying stuff for lunches. I just immediately thought of the need that’s out there,” Moyer said.
And that's how ProjectLove Billings was born from Project Lunch.
“Our schools are going to do everything they can to get food into our kid’s bellies, and they’re doing great work, and people are able to go and pick up curbside. My fear, because I have a history of working at Headstart, is that not everybody has the gas or vehicle to do that,” Moyer said.
No questions asked beyond contact information, location and quantity, Moyer put out the offer for free, delivered brown bag lunches in a social media group.
“A lot of people have sent us emails saying, ‘You know, this is why I’m in my situation.’ We don’t care what has gotten you in this situation. We care about you. And there’s absolutely no questions asked,” Moyer said.
It didn’t take long for the requests to start rolling in.
“That first Monday we delivered 19 lunches. And then we had 65 for Tuesday, and from then on, we’ve had over 100 lunches every single day since March 16th, Monday through Friday,” Moyer said.
And as fast as the requests came in, so did the volunteers.
Everything from cash donations, and businesses supplying lunch items, down to the artist designing the logo that’s displayed on each lunch bag, simply stating - ‘You are loved’.
“One thing we do at Project Lunch, is we include a lunch note on every lunch, and it says – ‘Enjoy your lunch, Love Sarah’ with a heart. It’s something I think brightens a day. And it makes me think about when I was a child, the lunch notes my mom put on my lunches. So, it’s important to me we lift up people’s days. It’s not just a lunch. We’re sending love. We’re sending the community. We’re saying we’re not alone,” Moyer said.
And no lunch is complete without the delivery drivers, who not only put safety first when transporting the food, but are also there to offer another form of safety.
“There’s going to be someone six feet away from a house every day. And more than likely, some of the people we’re delivering to, could be at risk of violence. And so, if they know at least once a day someone will be six feet from them, maybe we can prevent it. Maybe we can be a first reporter. Maybe there’s something we can do. We don’t know, but we have to try,” she said.
And Moyer has vowed to try, as long as she can.
“In reality, this could be their dinner. And we’re not checking any of that. It doesn’t matter. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about making sure everybody’s needs are met.”
Anyone interested in donating to ProjectLove Billings can visit ProjectLunch.biz and look for the #ProjectLoveBillings tab . There’s an option to purchase a lunch for $5, and for every lunch sold, one is given away for free.
Anyone in need of a free lunch can send a message to Sarah@ProjectLunch.biz.