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From His Heart to the Table

Meet Marco Morosini

By Rev. Dallas Teague Snider // Photo by Liesa Cole

You’ve heard the phrase, “It takes a village.” In the wake of the two recent hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, we have seen this first-hand. Many of us have family or know friends who were impacted by these storms. The emotional, financial and spiritual toll continues to unfold as thousands of people work to rebuild their lives.

As we are approaching the fall and winter months, the cooler temperatures present a different sort of storm for our city’s homeless population.

Little did Marco Morosini know that while participating in Leadership Birmingham, his passion for food could inspire a collaborative movement to help many seeking shelter on bone-chilling Alabama nights. From my perspective, it is collective efforts like this and love for our fellow human beings that truly make Birmingham the Magic City.

What do you think of when you think of being an everyday hero?

I don’t think about being a hero. I am not a hero at all. I am somebody who tries to use what I have to make sure that the homeless population is not forgotten, and that they are treated with some respect.

Describe what you do in your unique way to impact the lives of others.

In my Leadership Birmingham group, I created Heart to Table, a coalition sharing the task of feeding the homeless who come to the Boutwell Warming Station. Heart to Table solves a serious logistics problem for the city by connecting locally owned restaurants, organizations and businesses to provide meals on winter’s coldest nights.

The food is hot, nutritious, and the same as what you and I would want to eat on a bitter night. By bringing together so many restaurants and companies, no one kitchen or organization bears too heavy a burden—many hands really do make light work.

The restaurants involved in this partnership are Silvertron Cafe, The Abbey, Rojo, Cantina Bar and Grill, La Paz, Basil, Ted’s, Chez Lulu, Vecchia Pizzeria, Slice, Radical Creations Catering, Otey’s, C & K Catering, Bellini and Rib-It-Up. Organizations and businesses involved are Royal Cup (providing coffee every night Boutwell is open as shelter), Sysco (providing some food for the restaurants to cook), Urban Food Project (providing some local produce—vegetables are hard to come by in winter), Shipt (providing protein bars for the homeless to take with them when they return to the street), and Red Spot Organization (providing feminine hygiene products).

There are those who help Heart to Table financially: Royal Cup, First Commercial Bank, Mr. and Mrs. John Morris, Performance Food Group, Alabama Credit Union,, Rent Monster, Forest Park Garden Club, and United Way. These financial backers are vital to the program since the participating restaurants can request up to $300 in reimbursements for the food they buy to cook for the warming station.

Heart to Table feeds anywhere from 200 to 250 people a night, and the warming station is open anywhere between nine and 12 times per winter. That’s 1,800 to 3,000 meals. With a large enough list of restaurants, each kitchen is only called on once a year or so. But since I heavily promote the program and its participants year-round, all the restaurants have experienced not only the satisfaction of helping others, but also the benefits of happy customers.

Are there any particular challenges you faced or experience that changed your perspective to consider others and make a difference?

I met this guy (Don Lupo) who was single-handedly running the warming station for the City of Birmingham and begging for food left and right, night after night. So the challenge was, “How can I help this person who doesn’t get paid for all this extra effort and works like a maniac to find food for people who are homeless or who can’t afford their heating bill?” I knew there had to be a solution.

What is your personal mission or motto? Why?

“It costs nothing to ask.” It is really amazing what asking others to join you in a worthy cause can do you.

How do you #ThinkLoveFirst in what you do?

My loves are great food and a strong, healthy community. Heart to Table brings these two things together to show some love to those in our community who are in need.

What advice would you give others about being that light they are destined to be?

Don’t be afraid to ask, don’t give up, and find partners who share your vision. Amazing things can happen when a community comes together.

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