News Bites: Oberlin’s Chef Sukle Opening New Spot and Announces Move / Rhody Feeding Rhody Awarded USDA Grant / Rory’s Market Launces Fresh Produce Program

by David Dadekian

Current news releases—Eat Drink RI is not the source for these items—please follow any links for more information.


Chef/Owner Benjamin Sukle Announces New Restaurant, Gift Horse, to Open this Spring; Additionally, Oberlin will move to new location, directly across the street this Summer

Chef Benjamin Sukle Cooking at Wild Harmony Farm on Sept. 4, 2019, photo from Eat Drink RI
Chef Benjamin Sukle Cooking at Wild Harmony Farm on Sept. 4, 2019, photo from Eat Drink RI

Chef/Owner Benjamin Sukle of Oberlin (which opened in 2016) in Providence, Rhode Island, will be opening a new restaurant this Spring 2023, Gift Horse (address: 272 Westminster Street). The tongue and cheek saying which the restaurant borrows its name should offer a preview to the eccentric, playful tone the team hopes to achieve. With a strong focus on local shellfish, seafood, and catches from New England waters via raw bar dining in a style distinctive of Chef Sukle’s approach to seasonality, as well as the cultivated relationships he has with farmers and fishermen alike. One unique distinction is the oysters featured on the menu will predominantly be harvested from different bays around the state or within very close proximity.*  The beverage program will feature an expanded wine list, and highlight low ABV cocktails as well–think creative takes on Spritzes inspired by the Mediterranean coast. *More info on oyster programming available. 

Additionally, Oberlin which is currently located at 186 Union Street in downtown Providence will move directly across the street to a new location this Summer to 266 Westminster Street. The team plans to close the restaurant for a brief time to anticipate and prepare for the new location’s opening. Benjamin and team will expand hours of operation to add lunch and brunch service. The change of location promises to continue to offer the same experience diners have come to expect in the past six years, along with many added amenities including a new wood-burning oven–which will serve as the heart of the restaurant influencing respective seafood and vegetables dishes alike–a larger wine cellar and bar program, and overall more expansive footprint with additional seating, along with options for private dining and catering. The new location–being adjacent to Grant’s Block Park–allows for an expansive outdoor patio and bar, which will be weather proofed with a retractable roof and heaters to extend seasonal dining. Longtime general manager, Bethany Caliaro, will join as a partner in the restaurants as well.


“Rhody Feeding Rhody Alliance” Gets The Greenlight From USDA

Rhode Island Food Policy Council awarded $498K grant to fortify RI’s emergency food network while supporting local farms and fisheries

Movement Ground Farm in Tiverton, Rhode Island, photo courtesy of RI Food Policy Council

The Rhode Island Food Policy Council has been awarded a $498K grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) to launch the “Serving the Food Insecure Market: Connecting Rhode Island Farmers and Fishermen with Our Emergency Feeding Network” project. Implementation partners include Farm Fresh RI, Southside Community Land Trust, and the Commercial Fisheries Center of RI The Rhody Feeding Rhody Alliance will work with emergency food providers to build sustainable market channels between local farmers and fishers and Rhode Island residents in need of  fresh, local, culturally-appropriate food.

This project was strongly supported by Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation. A joint letter of support was signed by U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Jim Langevin and Rep. David Cicilline.

“This federal funding will help feed the hungry and expand opportunities for local food producers and businesses.  Rhode Island has amazing food and this collaborative effort will help the Rhode Island Food Policy Council and their partners find new ways to improve marketing, transportation, and distribution of local food and strengthen supply chains for food businesses,” said Senator Reed.

“I’m pleased to have helped secure the funding to stand up the Rhody Feeding Rhody Alliance, an innovative partnership that will connect fresh food from local farmers and fishermen to Rhode Islanders facing food insecurity,” said Whitehouse.  “This initiative will strengthen our food supply chain, boost the market for local agriculture and seafood businesses, and provide healthy food to our neighbors in need.”

“All Rhode Islanders deserve access to safe and nutritious food, which is why I’m so happy to deliver these crucial federal dollars to launch the ‘Rhody Feeding Rhody’ Alliance,” said Rep. Jim Langevin. “This new partnership will establish a critical connection between Rhode Island’s underserved communities and our best-in-class farmers and fishers, so that families experiencing food insecurity can enjoy the fresh produce and seafood produced right here at home.”

“Congratulations to the Rhode Island Food Policy Council and all of the tremendous local organizations who will be partnering for the Rhody Feeding Rhody Alliance,” said Congressman Cicilline. “I was thrilled to advocate to USDA for this innovative project. This effort will build a more resilient food system that not only addresses food insecurity but also supports our local producers and growers. It’s a win for our farmers and fishers and helps our vulnerable neighbors.”

Eva Agudelo, Farm Fresh RI’s Hope’s Harvest Executive Director, notes “This funding strengthens the work Farm Fresh RI does to bring millions of servings of locally grown and caught products into the emergency food market. “USDA programs like LFPP help us put our trucks, coolers, and dedicated staff in service to meeting the needs of Rhode Island farmers and our neighbors who struggle with food insecurity.”

“Add up the costs of healthy food, housing, child care, utilities – everything families need to succeed.  It’s all too expensive relative to income levels. Until this problem is fixed, SCLT will work through this program with USDA and our local partners to help hundreds of families in need serve up fresh produce grown right here by 40 small scale, sustainable urban and rural farmers.” says Margaret DeVos, Executive Director, Southside Community Land Trust

“This project will help to build on unique initiatives to connect local products to the emergency food system during a time of increasing need.” says Fred Mattera, Executive Director of Commercial Fisheries Center of RI, “For the Commercial Fisheries Center, this funding allows us to greatly expand and streamline access to nutritious local seafood among communities in need while helping to support our vibrant fishing industry.”

“Local seafood is an abundant resource in Rhode Island, an important part of a healthy diet, and is also a fundamental part of our culinary traditions for so many people in our community and yet still many people don’t have access to it.” says Kate Masury, Executive Director of Eating with the Ecosystem, “This funding will help Eating with the Ecosystem and the Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island support seafood businesses in providing local seafood to the emergency food system and sharing this delicious and healthy resource with people in need.”

“Access to safe and healthy food is a key determinant of health at the individual level and the community level. This grant will be critical to the Rhode Island Food Policy Council’s work to ensure this access for Rhode Islanders in every ZIP code throughout the state,” said Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH, Interim Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. “We thank the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Local Food Promotion Program for their partnership, and we look forward to the vital collaborations with our community partners that these funds will support for years to come.”

“Both Rhode Island’s emergency feeding network and local food producers experienced massive disruptions and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rhody Feeding Rhody initiative will deepen supply chain connections between these stakeholders, helping to build the kind of resilient and regional food system we envision in our state food plan “Relish Rhody” says Juli Stelmaszyk, RI State Director of Food Strategy

RIFPC’s project builds on a successful planning grant awarded by USDA in 2020 which piloted connections between 25 RI farmers and fishers. Now, 80 RI farmers and fishers (at least 9 of whom are from historically underserved communities, 

The new, 3-year grant will enable RIFPC and partners to build information exchanges, infrastructure, and ordering systems that will benefit these local businesses and RI emergency food providers alike. Mutually-agreed upon product, price and delivery specifications will build greater confidence and offer lower risk to food producers and harvesters. 

The Rhody Feeding Rhody Alliance will identify pathways to financial viability, enhancing and growing the wholesale market for 50+ locally-grown agricultural products as well as growing wholesale markets for 30+ locally-harvested, wild-caught seafood in the emergency food system. The Council will measure and evaluate project impacts, using findings to continually improve program operations and advocate for sustainable funding. As a result, the local emergency feeding system will become a larger, more reliable wholesale market for local producers and harvesters while also becoming more resilient to supply chain shocks from public health emergencies and climate-related disasters.

To learn more about the Rhody Feeding Rhody Alliance, email info@rifoodcouncil.org.


Rory’s Market And Kitchen Launches Pound For Pound Fresh Produce Program November 2022 In Downtown Providence

Rory’s Customer Shopping for Organic Produce, photo courtesy of Rory’s

Rory’s Market + Kitchen and UNFI Produce & Fresh Co. have partnered to expand the Pound for Pound program originally initiated in 2019 at the company’s Cape Cod stores to include Rory’s new location in downtown Providence. 

Throughout the month of November, select produce will be on sale at all Rory’s Market + Kitchen locations. For every pound of eligible produce purchased by Rory’s customers, Rory’s will donate a pound to the community’s local food bank. 

At the company’s Dennis Port and Mashpee locations, the weight of purchased produce will be donated to the Family Pantry of Cape Cod. Purchases made at Rory’s in downtown Providence will contribute to poundage donated to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. No monetary donations are required to participate; customers simply purchase at Rory’s and know they will be supporting members of their local community in need.

“Food insecurity affects every community, and fresh produce is often an area that food banks are lacking in donation or supply,” says Rory Eames, owner and namesake of Rory’s. “We are committed to using our purchasing power to help increase access to fresh, quality produce to our local communities.”

At the conclusion of the program, Rory’s will purchase the fresh produce in highest demand by the food banks which will then be delivered to drop locations at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and the Family Pantry of Cape Cod. 

“The Food Bank is so appreciative of the generosity of Rory’s Market and its customers,” shared Lisa Roth Blackman, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank’s Chief Philanthropy Officer. “The need for food assistance in Rhode Island has increased dramatically. Our member agencies are serving 63,000 people per month – an increase of 20% from last year. This donation from Rory’s will help us meet the demand for healthy, fresh produce – an important part of our distribution.

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