Landing Love Project serving thousands of meals at SML

Community donating both money and time to serve those at risk in their backyards

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Va. – As local restaurants in our area continue to lose money, we’re seeing some still cooking up a storm. But despite all the food going out the door, there’s no money coming in.

Busy season at the Landing Restaurant is almost here, it’s one of Smith Mountain Lake’s most popular restaurants. But there’s not a customer in sight and like others in the coronavirus world, owners Tiffany and Bruno Silva are struggling.

“If we go, we had 16 years. It was a great run, but at this time it’s time to turn around and help everybody else that needs help at this point," Tiffany Silva said.

Together, they’re struggling to watch their neighbors suffer. Six weeks ago the two launched the Landing Love Project to help. They’re chef-inspired meals for those at risk, no payment needed.

“It’s the right thing to do and there’s always somebody that’s in a worse position than you are," Silva said.

Volunteer drivers navigate away from the shiny boats and lake views to places where a missed paycheck is life-changing.

Recipient Eric Deare has never appreciated a delivery so much.

“It’s like Christmas, you never know what we’re going to get and it’s pretty much the only interaction that we get with anybody, we don’t see anybody anymore with social distancing," Deare said.

Debbie Rice and her husband Todd volunteer three times a week because they want to make sure others in the community are taken care of.

“This is just amazing, the program that they have here, just knowing that you’re able to help somebody,” Rice said.

Back in the restaurant, there’s a chalkboard with some numbers on it.

“That board is every meal that we have served since we started," Silva said.

The last number on the board is 5,097, and it’s the number of meals served to the community. The only thing for sure is that they’re going to need a bigger board.

“That’s our dream is that it gets bigger. You know we’re here to help and I think it’s amazing, turning things around and actually doing things for other people feels a lot better than focusing on yourself and what problems you may have," Silva said.

The project is also handing out free meals for those in need and those on the front line this Saturday at Franklin County High School at noon, and next Saturday at Staunton River Middle School at the same time.

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