Deb Dickinson, the manager of volunteers for Shepherd Center Central, has one of the most difficult jobs in the city.
"There are days I have to say 'no' all day. And when you have to say that to people who need Meals on Wheels, it's extremely disheartening," says Dickinson.
The Westport-based Shepherd Center Central merged, earlier this year, with Westport Cooperative Services, but both organizations still provide Meals on Wheels to their own client base: Shepherd Center Central delivers between 45 to 50 meals daily, and Westport Cooperative Services delivers between 25 and 30 meals each day.
"It's sad," says Dickinson. "We have so many people on the waiting list right now."
It takes money to provide the Meals on Wheels services and this Saturday, ten Westport restaurants are asking patrons to literally step up to the plate. The "Westend Stampede" will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 19. Ten Westport restaurants - Bluestem, Pot Pie, Boozefish Wine Bar, The Point, Filling Station, Mike Kelly's Westside, Cupini's, Twin City Tavern, Recordbar, and the Westport Flea Market - will offer tasting plates and samplings of Boulevard Beer to patrons who purchase a $20 ticket.
The tickets are available online and are currently sold at the Recordbar and Boozefish Wine Bar.
"It's a food crawl instead of a traditional pub crawl," says Colby Garrelts, chef and co-owner of Bluestem. "A lot of people do the tour of the restaurants in small groups. They come in with their ticket and we give them a little dish of something to eat - this year we're doing crispy chicken wings with XO sauce - and a small glass of beer."
Westend Stampede was created four years ago by Steve Tulipana and Shawn Sherill of the Recordbar and Maija Diethelm-Floyd of Boozefish Wine Bar.
Pam Seymour, the executive director of Shepherd Center Central said last year's Stampede only raised $800: "We didn't have the funds to advertise it and had a smaller turnout. Our biggest year was 2011. We raised $1800 for Meals on Wheels from the event. It really helps us provide what we call 'extenders,' which are meals for clients who don't have access to meals on the weekends. We only deliver meals Monday through Friday, but some of our clients need additional meals to get through the weekend."
The Westend Stampede has its own Facebook page for more information.