“We’ve both tried to find different ways to use our resources and platforms,” says Salt & Forge owner David Hahn. Over the past few weeks, Hahn and Soul N’ Vinegar owner Michelle Parrish have teamed up to create an epic summer staple – the Hanover BLT – to raise money for Richmond Food Justice Alliance. For every sandwich sold, they’re donating $1 to the nonprofit.
The alliance looks to people living in underserved communities to guide its programming, working to ameliorate food injustice across the city. So it’s fitting that a perfectly ripe, locally grown Hanover tomato would be the highlight of this fundraiser. Bounty to create more bounty – Hahn and Parrish have raised more than $500 so far.
“Our mission is always focused on helping the community through how we do business,” Parrish says. “We’re really blessed to be able to partner with friends like Salt & Forge to be able to contribute.”
The Hanover BLT ($13) features Soul N’ Vinegar’s bangin’ pimento cheese with extra-thick bacon, charred jalapeño mayo and butter lettuce on toasted country white bread. Folks can order the sandwich from Salt & Forge’s storefront or food truck, and for pickup or delivery at saltandforge.com/order. Just don’t go looking for the BLT on Uber Eats or GrubHub, this is a locals-only operation. “We aren’t allowing any third-party apps to make money off of local businesses,” Hahn notes.
Soul N’ Vinegar and Salt & Forge, like other food establishments in the country, have been hit hard by the pandemic. Mentally, emotionally and monetarily taxing, the weight of running a small business and keeping all humans under their care safe can drive many people into the ground. But Hahn and Parrish say they’re just doing what they can, where they can. “As we got into the pandemic and there was this rise in social justice issues, we’re looking for avenues to contribute,” Hahn says.
Parrish has been an advocate of voter rights and registration, with an #RVA Citizens page on Soul N’ Vinegar’s website dedicated to educating people about upcoming elections. Hahn says Salt & Forge has donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center and works to feed nurses at every hospital in the city. And now it’s funding the work of the folks on the ground, doing the hard labor of addressing deeply rooted systemic inequities. One sandwich at a time.