Local restaurateur helps community during crisis

Rita’s Catering staff ready to help feed community. From left to right, Shara Nabarowsky, Joshua Long, Carolyn Elkins, Areti (Rita) Lacroix-Menoudarakos and Zaharias Menoudarakos. (photo by Tawni Lively of Central Maine Photography)

by Mark Huard

It was once said that “you don’t know what you are made of until you are broken.” When you are faced with trying times that take away your ability to live life as you have, what do you do? Well, the Kennebec community certainly knows what Areti “Rita” Lacroix-Menoudarakos, of Rita’s Catering, does in tough times…. she cooks! During this time of crisis when Covid-19 hit, she had a catering event that canceled after all the food had already been ordered. Cathy Bond, from the Winslow Credit Union, knows that Rita takes every opportunity to help the frontline staff at local police and fire stations. So when the event canceled, Cathy gave Rita the green light to do what she does, and help others in time of need. Rita and her staff started off on a smaller scale and made batches of food for the different departments to pick up.

As the State of Emergency continued, Rita adapted and thought of a way to help the broader community on a larger scale. Rita knows that this community has many people that depend on restaurants and takeout services to feed them on a daily basis. Many people do not cook and are now forced into isolation without supplies or knowledge of cooking or baking. This inspired Rita to develop a plan to create low cost meals for the community members during this time of need.

She used her gift of cooking to help others in their time of need.

This plan was extremely well received by so many. In fact, Rita went through all of the food that she had and then had to order two more times after that in order to continue helping the community she loves so much. The meals are being used for multiple different purposes from fueling our first responders to ensuring that our vulnerable elderly population is well fed. There are many seniors that pride themselves on being independent and these meals have helped them stay safe and nourished in this difficult time.

There are some wonderful federally-funded programs out there, but not everyone qualifies for those programs. Rita’s mission was to prevent people from falling through the cracks. She did not want the elderly to have to go out to the stores or go without food. The low cost has allowed others to purchase the meals for others as well, and enable more to continue giving and taking care of each other. Easter was difficult for many being away from family; however, Rita and her team worked hard to give affordable options for people to have a nice dinner over the holiday.

Apple crisps (photos by Tawni Lively)

Tracy O’Clair, of Waterville, says, “As a community we are blessed to have people like Rita.” I think many agree with these sentiments.

Meals ready for pick up at Rita’s Catering, on Bay Street, in Winslow. (photos by Tawni Lively)

During the time of crisis, Rita didn’t break but rather rose to the occasion. She used her gift of cooking to help others in their time of need. She didn’t think of herself, but thought only of how to help others. This pandemic will certainly go down in history, but for our community so will Rita and her generous acts of kindness.”

Meal pick up is at Rita’s House of Pizza, 51 Bay Street, in Winslow. She has also created a Facebook group called Rita’s covid-19 family meal.

If anyone is in need of help at this difficult time, please feel free to contact Rita at the Winslow House of Pizza at 872-0773.




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