When the temperature dips near freezing in Birmingham, Boutwell Auditorium opens as a shelter for more than 300 people on many nights.
But what will they eat?
Marco Morosini knows the answer, provided by Heart to Table.
“Six or seven years ago I began to bring food to the homeless,” said Morosini, the owner of Silvertron Café and the founder of Heart to Table. “We feed them local food from Alabama, which is the beautiful thing about this organization. I had local eggs, collard greens, pork chops and cabbage delivered. Royal Cup donated coffee. All of this gets delivered to the Boutwell for the homeless during cold nights.”
Silvertron has been around for 30 years, and Morosini took over as owner in 2007. He has implored other restaurant owners to come on board. Heart to Table now has 22 restaurants, including Basil Gourmet Pizza & Bar, Bellinis Ristorante & Bar, Bottega Café, Chez Lulu, Gianmarco’s, Rojo and others.
“Throughout the year I’m working on recruiting more restaurants, but I’m always helping. The original idea was to just do this in the winter, but in September when the tornado came through Birmingham and they opened Boutwell auditorium for the homeless, we stepped in,” Morosini said.
“It connects local farmers with the restaurants,” Morosini said. “On Christmas Day, we served 70 pork chops from Fudge Family Farms in Madison, Alabama. We had two big containers of cooked collard greens and cabbages from farms in this state. There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing farmers supporting the homeless.”
Don Lupo, director of the Office of Citizens Assistance for the City of Birmingham, said that if it wasn’t for Morosini, feeding the homeless at shelters for nearly 30 nights a year would be difficult.
“I have called Marco our patron angel,” Lupo said. “He’s there not some nights, but every night, and he brings amazing food with him. Heart to Table happens because of him. The Boutwell has been open this winter for 16 nights already.”
In addition to Heart to Table, Morosini has created Movies in Avondale Park, a free family summer movie series. He has also brought the Alabama Symphony Orchestra to the park for free spring concerts. His love for the community is unending.
“Having 22 restaurants, and as big of a number as that is, at the end of the day it’s not that many. When the time comes, it’s not that easy to drop what you’re doing and cook for 250 people,” Morosini said.
So why does Morosini do all of this?
“I do this because everyone is a person just like you and me. Nobody deserves to have second-class food, nobody deserves to have anything less than what you and I would eat,” he said. “These people are sadly less fortunate, and if I can do anything to make their night at the shelter more enjoyable, tastier, warmer, then I’m going to do it.”
Morosini insists that Silvertron provides not only good food, but a warm and inviting atmosphere. He puts as much value in the surroundings and the community as he does in the food.
“It’s priceless when someone who is homeless says ‘God bless you’ and ‘thank you for what you’re doing,’” Morosini said. “That moment right there is payback for all the hours spent in the kitchen and all the money invested. There’s no better feeling than that.”
For information or to be included in Heart to Table, visit the organization’s Facebook page.
Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at [email protected].