Former Tandem restaurant owner Caitlin Cullen joins Riverwest Food Pantry

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A chef and former restaurant owner has once again put profits on the back burner. 

Caitlin Cullen became known during the pandemic for generously feeding the hungry through her restaurant Tandem.

Now, she's joining the Riverwest Food Pantry.

Volunteers at the pantry load bags of groceries into cars twice a week. The pandemic has given incentive to do more, and that's where Caitlin Cullen's background will help.

The pandemic hit the hospitality industry hard in 2020, and Caitlin Cullen's north side restaurant closed.

"They had fantastic food, and she had hired a number of young adults that were marginalized young adults from the community," said Vincent North, executive director for the Riverwest Food Pantry.

Food that might have been wasted at Tandem was instead made into meals and served to the hungry. 

"Everyone stands to lose everything right now, so I think as long as we're doing what feels right, then I'm okay with that," Cullen said back in April 2020.

Now, she's accepted a position as food center director at the Riverwest Food Pantry.

"What we have in common -- her heart, and our heart as a community, is a passion for food and a passion for people," said Noth.

And it's more than a place to pick up food. When single mom Clara Conner found herself being evicted, Riverwest stepped in, providing Conner and her son with a temporary place to stay.

"And this place has been nothing but a blessing to me," said Conner. 

Volunteers also run a 27,000-square foot three-season urban farm on Port Washington Road, which Cullen will oversee. 

"When you come to a place like this, you are reminded of these amazing volunteers that will stand out in sub-zero temperatures and these amazing community members that are carrying burdens to love their family through challenges, and it's that good that's gonna get us through this and make our city stronger," said Noth.

If you'd like to get involved, you can find more information on the Riverwest Food Pantry page.

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