Aspen Pie Shop owner Ryan Chadwick is teaming up with Aspen Family Connections Director Katherine Sand to provide pizza to people in need.
The program, called “Post for a Pie,” is simple: Purchase a regular-priced pizza and post a photo of it to social media — tagging @aspenpieshop or #aspenpieshop — and the business will donate a cheese or pepperoni pie to a local family.
“I’ve been wanting to do something for a while, but with the [restaurant] closures and restrictions and everything else, I just haven’t had the time and I wanted to make sure the staff was ready,” Chadwick said Monday afternoon. “And I think now is the time to do it.”
The first week of “Post for a Pie” will start next Monday, March 1 and run through Sunday. Chadwick said he plans to offer the program for added weeks, staggered over the next month and a half, but is eager to first see how Week One does. Ultimately, his goal is to give away 300 to 400 pizzas — but, he said, “maybe it’ll be thousands.”
For each pie purchased, whether for dine-in, take-out or delivery, the Pie Shop will donate a voucher for Sand, who will then distribute them to families most in need.
As director of the resource center, which for the past 11 months has also hosted a weekly food drive (Wednesday, 12 to 2 p.m. at Aspen Golf Course), Sand is highly aware of the needs of families in the valley.
Sand underscored that these needs should not be underestimated, and now more so than ever as a result of the economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People completely underestimate [local families’ needs],” Sand said Monday. “This is a very challenging part of the world to live in, and as much as there is great wealth and great opportunity for some, the economic foundations of our community are really fragile.
“If there’s any contraction of the tourism economy — and we know that that has happened — we know that people suffer.”
Sand cited the results of a recent survey AFC conducted of families within the Aspen School District: about 50% said they feel financially stable, while the other half reported otherwise.
“It’s a lot. That’s why we have to be really careful when characterizing Aspen as this place where everyone is rich and making it,” Sand said. “Because many, many people are barely doing that.”
She added that other AFC surveys amid the pandemic have revealed that a “significant number of people, if not actually struggling, are anxious and have taken a big hit this year.”
This stems in large part from the many “extremely resourceful and versatile” local residents who work multiple side gigs, mostly within the hospitality industry, in order to earn supplemental income, Sand said.
“I think this is something that’s not even that well understood,” she continued, adding: “It’s hard to quantify how many peoples’ livelihoods partially or wholly depend on the tourist economy.”
Sand commended Chadwick’s endeavors — especially given the many economic and emotional hardships those in the restaurant industry have endured over the past year.
For Chadwick’s part, the restaurant owner said he was largely inspired by the recent philanthropic efforts of Meridian Jewelers owners Robin and Kenny Smith.
Not to mention, “Who doesn’t like pizza?” Chadwick quipped.
“I figured this is a great way to give back and a great way for people to try the pizza who maybe hadn’t before,” he said.