RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Underground Kitchen prides itself on luxury dining.  CEO Michael Sparks said the company was on pace for one of their most successful years yet, but the coronavirus pandemic changed that.

“We were actually signing contracts to go international,” Sparks said. “It was our biggest year ever, and in two weeks we lost everything.” 

The company was losing money. Chefs were out of a job, but the kitchen was still stocked with food in preparation for weeks of events. That’s when it clicked for Sparks. 

“We had a refrigerator full of food, all these chefs out of work, and we said what do we do? When folks get sick I made soup.” 

He, along with COO Katie Houck, created the Underground Kitchen Community First Project. Their mission became to feed people in need during the pandemic. 

In a little over three months, UGK has provided more than 50,000 meals to people throughout metro Richmond, primarily to those who are food insecure or whose jobs put them at high risk of exposure during the COVID-19 crisis.

Kate Houck, the COO of the company, said this program embodies the meaning of community. 

“We saw an immediate need in our community created by the crisis – both for healthy meals to be delivered to those in need, as well as for those in the food industry to have access to work in a safe environment to support their families,” says Houck.

Mre than 90 volunteers help out with the project. Each bag is packed with soups, homemade bread, and a positive note. Volunteers then deliver the meal to the doorsteps of families. 

Spark hopes this project exudes love and creates hope for the community. 

You can find more information online here.