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Mountain View resident starts nonprofit to support hungry families and restaurants

Uploaded: Jul 16, 2020
A longtime Mountain View resident has founded a new nonprofit she hopes will kill two birds with one stone: feeding local families in need while supporting struggling restaurants.

IdaRose Sylvester, chair of the city's Human Relations Commission, is behind Mountain View Appetite for Good. The nonprofit allows people to purchase vouchers for meals from local restaurants to feed a family through Community Services Agency (CSA) in Mountain View, which provides social services including food and rent assistance.

"Demand for their food programs and food assistance was growing incredibly fast, historic levels of demand for food," Sylvester said of CSA at the start of the pandemic. "But I also realized at the same time that our local restaurants, which in Mountain View are such a part of our culture, our heritage … they were suffering horribly, too."

Diners eat outside at Ristorante Don Giovanni on Castro Street in Mountain View, one of the restaurants that has partnered with Appetite for Good. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Within a week of launching, people had donated more than 120 meals through Appetite for Good.

Sylvester started with three partner restaurants in Mountain View — Ristorante
Don Giovanni, Esphesus and Olympus Caffe & Bakery — but hopes to expand with more, as well as additional nonprofit partners. She has since added Los Portales, a longtime Mexican restaurant on Moffett Boulevard, as well as Hobee's, Rumble Fish and Blue Line Pizzeria.

People can buy vouchers for meals online, and Community Services Agency then distributes the vouchers to their clients. (Donations are tax deductible as an in-kind donation to Community Services Agency.) The restaurants receive the full price of the voucher.

Community Services Agency supports hundreds of food insecure families each week in Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

"Our clients are really struggling right now. For many, it is so difficult to find resources of any kind, particularly food," CSA Executive Director Tom Myers said in a press release. "Helping local restaurants also keeps people employed, then hopefully they won't need CSA's services."

The donated meals, like penne pomodoro melanzane from Don Giovanni or chicken souvlaki from Olympus, also give the recipients a sense of normalcy, Sylvester said — "that moment of not having to do the dishes or worry about where my meal's going to come from."

Mehmet Vural, owner of Olympus Caffe and Ephesus, said he "joined this program because it is a good way to be a part of this community in this challenging time."

Sylvester, who runs the new nonprofit on the side of her full-time job as the founder of a high-tech marketing firm, said she hopes Appetite for Good has "long-term staying power."

"Even outside of a pandemic these are two needs that still exist," she said. "People are still hungry in the community and restaurants are always riding the margin."

Sylvester encouraged local restaurant owners and nonprofits who are interested in partnering with Appetite for Good to reach out to her at or by calling 408-504-9860.

For more information about Appetite for Good, go to
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Homeless Single, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Jul 16, 2020 at 9:24 am

Will CSA also grant vouchers to homeless individuals seeking some free food. I am acquainted with the aforementioned MV restaurants and enjoy their cuisine having received freebies from diners leaving the venues.

Just got out of Elmwood Correctional Facility and the food there leaves much to be desired...looking forward to procuring some high-end grub if possible.

It's good to be back in MV...a nice town to hang-out in.

Posted by A Talking Cat, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:15 am

A Talking Cat is a registered user.

This is such a great idea! A way to help local families in need, AND help struggling local restaurants stay open! I'm going to be buying so many vouchers through this program. I hope more local restaurants take part!

Posted by Homeless Single, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Jul 16, 2020 at 11:00 am

> I'm going to be buying so many vouchers through this program. I hope more local restaurants take part!

Great! If you happen to be driving by the MV Library & happen to see a middle-aged white man carrying a sleeping bag & sporting a light blue backpack, please pass along a voucher as single homeless people need to eat as well.

Bon appetit and thank you for your kindness!

Posted by penbear, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jul 16, 2020 at 12:45 pm

penbear is a registered user.

This is a great idea. Could an existing non-profit in Palo Alto do the same or similar win-win for Palo Alto restaurants and food challenged people in Palo Alto?

Posted by Susan, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Jul 16, 2020 at 1:16 pm

Great idea... I'd love to see an option on one's restaurant bill to pay for one or more additional meals (in the form of this sort of voucher) for needy people, just like when you check out at Safeway and the credit card machine asks if you'd like to donate a few bucks to the needy -- it is so EASY to say YES!, and to give a little extra, especially at the moment you are in the fortunate position to buy for your own comfort, and realize you could spare a bit extra (and with very little effort)! Conscience also plays an encouraging part...

Posted by Needy but invisible , a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Jul 16, 2020 at 2:50 pm

I am a single mom going through divorce, but my soon to be ex and I have been laid off. According to last year's tax return we are fine; according to latest developments we are not!
I wonder if it's possible to get vouchers for me and my kid.

Posted by BDBD, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Jul 16, 2020 at 8:01 pm

BDBD is a registered user.

What a great idea! I just bought a family's dinner from one of our favorite restaurants. There's no reason that free food should be bad food, so I hope it gives someone a sense of normalcy during hard times. I remember kids in my high school who had never eaten at a restaurant fancier than McDonald's because it was too expensive. This nonprofit could help hungry people feel like full members of their community *and* keep our restaurants going for another day.

Posted by Homeless Single, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Jul 17, 2020 at 9:30 am

In addition to the meal vouchers, the participating MV restaurants should also consider DONATING their day's leftover menu items on a take-out basis to those in need.

Posted by Gualterio Nunez Estrada., a resident of another community,
on Jul 21, 2020 at 5:54 pm

Good idea.

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