“Be the change you wish to see in the world” might be a pithy bumper sticker saying attributed to Gandhi1 but it’s also true — the power to make a difference begins and ends with each of us.
Yaniv Sharir believes in the power of community and “the importance of supporting each other and working together to build each other up and to thrive.”
Yaniv and his wife Lisa, owners of O’Malley’s Pub & Restaurant in Raleigh for more than 20 years, amplified personal convictions about the public safety officers who often serve thanklessly into a full-blown community movement.
Feed the Force was their response to the July Dallas police shooting and the protests afterward.
“I felt strongly that we needed to acknowledge the positive aspect of how police impact our lives,” Yaniv said. “On a personal level, what could we do? Lisa and I own a restaurant, and we could serve them a free meal, but how many officers could we really reach with our message?”
That’s when the Sharirs realized that by working together “we could cover a larger area to serve people where they live or work.”
What began as a grass-roots, word-of-mouth effort is now getting statewide attention.
Feed the Force is 120 restaurants strong, with more than a hundred locations in Wake County and stretching from Roxboro to Charlotte to Beaufort.2 The premise is simple: serve a free meal to any police officer, state trooper or sheriff’s deputy in uniform on September 4 and 5.
“These officers deserve our support and this is an opportunity for our community to give back and say thank you for their service,” Yaniv said. “Our goal is to strengthen support for local law enforcement by recognizing the positive impact police have on the community.”
The Sharirs have a personal connection with police officers; a good friend serves on Raleigh’s force. When they were developing the idea, the friend served as the “inside guy,” vetting it with other officers. His response: it was a “good thing to do and a good time to do it.” Several nearby jurisdictions concurred, voicing their appreciation after the Sharirs sent a letter notifying officers about the event.
It may have been Yaniv’s idea initially, but he said that “the bulk of the credit goes to my wife. She’s the one who created the Facebook page, manages it, googled how to build a website and how to create the map with all the restaurants listed. The success of how big this has become is 90% due to her.”
All of the proceeds from sales of Feed the Force t-shirts, available at O’Malley’s or online, go to the Raleigh police department’s charity of choice: the 200 Club of Wake County. The organization provides immediate financial help to families of fallen police officers.
Progressive Graphics donated the first 200 shirts. When asked why he supported Feed the Force in a WRAL interview, co-owner Richard Puckett said that “I know they [officers] are out there doing the best they can, and I think it’s important for everyone to get behind them and show their support.”
When asked about next steps, Yaniv made his intentions clear. “We’re taking it day by day. All of our energy is focused on getting this event right. Once we have that in the rear-view mirror we can decide where to go from here.”
But for now he has one simple request: “Spread the word.”