Darien’s Four Forks eatery prepares nearly 3,000 meal donations during pandemic

It started with one family — the Sarvers.

The end result was nearly 3,000 meals being donated to emergency workers, hospital staff, police officers, nursing homes and shelters.

As Four Forks owner Megan Ruppenstein’s donation program came to a close in early June, she reflected on how one family’s idea became a months-long project.

“Our first dropoff at Stamford Hospital really demonstrated the gravity of the situation. The drive on I-95 was on a basically deserted highway in the middle of the day. We pulled up to this massive hospital complex and it felt like a ghost town,” she said.

During the drop-off, Ruppenstein said her team quickly learned the impact COVID-19 had on Stamford Hospital “was much deeper than we realized.”

“The number of staff, 100 to 200, who were truly on the front lines showed us this was much deeper than we knew and would go on for much longer than we could expect,” Ruppenstein said.

Four Forks used its weekly email distribution to spread the word of the actual need for lunches and dinners at Stamford Hospital.

“The first Instagram post at Stamford Hospital was also tremendously effective in spurring people to act. The mobilization of Darien, Rowayton, New Canaan and Westport streets, neighborhoods, families and friends was truly amazing,” she said.

Throughout the pandemic, many Darien eateries took to creative ways to stay in business. Corbin Cares, started by David Genovese, partnered with Baywater, the Darien Foundation and the Lions Club to prepare meals for front-line workers, seniors and those in need. Four Forks was also part of that project.

However, separately, various neighborhoods also worked with Ruppenstein to donate meals, totaling 2,890 as of early June.

At the end of March alone, neighborhoods had already donated hundreds of meals.

In April, Ruppenstein’s hard work continued. The neighborhood group of Friends of Overbook/Rabbit/Brookside organized a fundraiser in order to send meals to Stamford Hospital workers.

“We ended up delivering 100 meals from Four Forks tonight (it was important to us to support a local business at the same time) and we also donated $200 towards the hospital’s PPE fund,” said Darien resident Holly Mitchell at the time.

Following that delivery, Ruppenstein got a surprise call from a local fuel company.

“We have done many many of the deliveries like the one Holly did and a nurse at the hospital is a relative of the owners of Rowayton Fuel. The owners called me to thank me for the food and were so lovely and offered me fuel — a great pay it forward!” Ruppenstein said in April.

“She said, ‘You have made our sister happy and we want to make your life a little easier.’ It was so nice. I cried,” Ruppenstein said.

Ruppenstein added that everyone has been so great throughout this experience.

“I feel so lucky to be in business and helping and making people happy,” she said.

Recently, Ruppenstein contacted The Darien Times because she said she “would love to do something to list all the families and neighborhoods that made this possible. And show appreciation since they all wanted Four Forks to stay alive and busy in this hard time.”

“In our business, we have seen many times the grace of so many within our community when someone is sick, in need or celebrating a birth. We know the families going through cancer and the ones who have lost parents. Food is always the perfect gift, so in some ways we were not surprised at the scale of which people gave,” Ruppenstein said.

“Ingrid and Michael Sarver of Nolen Lane started this and with just one post, it became something many of our customers wanted to be a part of. They did it to help the workers and support a local business,” she said.

“We gave all the meals at a discounted rate and make each meal special with a side and a sweet. We received calls and thank-you notes from the hospitals and the workers who enjoyed the food,” she said.

About Four Forks

Four Forks opened in 2016 and is named after the forks that feed Ruppenstein’s four boys. It has evolved into a full service catering and event company. It also continues to focus on providing wholesome, healthy “home cooked” meals to busy families who find themselves eating take out or scrambling to prepare dinner too often than they would like.

Ruppenstein lives in Darien with her husband Chris and their four boys. More info: FourForks.net

The meal donors

 The Ahl Family and Friends

 The Angelbeck Family

 The Benson Family and the Families of Noroton Bay

 Jane Bieles

 The Burke Family and Friends

 Charlie and Penny Carroll

 Corbin Cares

 The Cavoli Family

 The de Castro Family and Families of Fox Hill Lane

 The Eising Family and the Stephen Mather Neighbors

 The Erdlen Family and Friends

 Susan Graham and Hackers for Hope

 The Hannigan and Casey Families

 The Harder Family and Friends

 The Hellman Family and Families of Hillcrest Avenue

 The Herling Family and Rings End Hardware

 The Kirby Family and the Familes of Oakshade Road

 The Kroenlein Family

 The Leclerc Family

 Felice Marcy of CST50 and Byrne Pozzi

 The Maher Family

 Sara McCarthy and Friends

 The Mitchell Family and the Families of Overbrook Lane

 The Morici Family and the Tokeneke School PTO

 Michael Mostofi and the Families of Huckleberry Lane

 The Peters Family and Families of Sunswyck

 Caroline Rosen and Friends

 The Sarver Family and the Nolen Lane Families

 The Seth Family

 The Sullivan Family and the Families of Red Mill Lane and Old Kings Highway

 The Wellinbgton Family and the Families of the Bump-a-Long Neighborhood

 The Whidden/Eades Family

 The Wilson Family, The Benedict Family, The Swindell Family and the Sommerville Family

 Jayne Tighe Jepsen and the Delafield Island Social Group

 The Von Stade and Kane Families and Friends