ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Chef Jenna Arcidiacono of Amore Trattoria Italiana in Comstock Park has been recognized with the Governor’s Service Award for her commitment to helping others during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She is one of 10 individuals and the only person in West Michigan to be recognized with the award.

Throughout the past couple of years, Chef Jenna created ways to help those who were impacted by the virus through the way of food.

“I was in shock, I was so honored,” said Chef Jenna about when she was told about the recognition. “Bringing smiles to people, no matter what it meant, by food or just by recognizing their work, whether behind the scenes or frontline workers. You know sometimes they just needed a pick-me-up.”

Whether it was frontline workers or people who may have lost a loved one from the virus, Chef Jenna found ways to keep community members fed. Through nonprofit Food Hugs she was able to create a specific effort called Tip-Back Thursday, which donated thousands of dollars to restaurant workers as they worked through the pandemic.

“Right now, we are up to $50,000 given back as far as tips to local restaurants,” Chef Jenna said.

She said it wouldn’t have been possible without community members. 

“I just thought that would be a great opportunity to recognize her,” Megan Foresman, the woman who nominated Archidiacono for the award, said.

Foresman heard about the award through the Michigan Community Service Commission. Foresman has known Chef Jenna for several years and said it was an easy choice to nominate her.

She added that it wasn’t just one specific act of kindness that pushed her to nominate Chef Jenna, because even before the pandemic Chef Jenna was giving back.

“Just the impact that she’s had on our community and the presence is really phenomenal,” said Foresman. “For her to be able to maintain her restaurant and for her to also find ways to serve the community, I just think that’s really admirable and certainly heroic.”

Chef Jenna said she plans to keep Food Hugs going as she continues to help out restaurants and their workers in West Michigan.

For the full conversation with Chef Jenna Arcidiacono, watch the video in the player above.