Adapting to the pandemic so that life-saving resources don’t stop

Local News

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A popular Liverpool cafe found a way to overcome obstacles and reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, but the need was far greater than the restaurant.

“We knew we had to open somehow,” said Holly Lowery, the executive director of Ophelia’s Place.

The work inside Cafe at 407 is so much bigger than its pastries and sandwiches. It supports the mission of Ophelia’s Place, which promotes body positivity, and connects people with eating disorders to support groups and life-saving resources.

Instagram @Cafeat407

“Pre-COVID, 35% of the non-profit Ophelia’s Place’s budget, it’s supported by the cafe,” said Lowery. When the pandemic closed the cafe’s doors in mid-March, it cut off that supply.

The team had a lot to figure out.

“How do we sort of adapt and evolve through this so that we can reopen so that Ophelia’s Place can continue to be sustained by the cafe,” said Lowery.

They spent a few months ironing out the details and coming up with a solution: a hybrid cafe-marketplace.

“People can kind of come in a grab lunch to go, they can grab breakfast to go and, of course, they could do that before but everything was made to order. Now we’re trying to make things the morning of, a little bit more advanced,” said Lowery.

Instagram: Cafeat407

It’s a concept that will likely stay on the menu even after this pandemic is behind us as Cafe at 407 continues to support the vital work of Ophelia’s Place.

“The eating disorder population, before any of this, struggled with self-isolation, and so then when there’s a very necessary recommendation for health and safety, all of a sudden that can kind of become permission for some to slide back to eating disorder behaviors,” said Lowery.

One of the online support group’s weekly attendance doubled during COVID-19. “Now more than ever, this population needs community support and some kind of structure to keep them feeling like they’re grounded in their recovery efforts,” said Lowery.

The good news? These resources, because they’re online, are even more accessible.

“So for example, intensive outpatient programs that were done here in person have been brought virtually,” said Lowery.

As the non-profit continues to reach more people, Lowery says recommends checking in with friends who have struggled with eating disorders in the past or who may be struggling with them right now.

“Just check on them, be with them, connect with them in weird ways if you can’t be with them in person, but I think that connection is vital,” said Lowery.

Even if you’re not suffering from anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder, Lowery encourages you to check in with your mental health.

We also need space to be real and honest with ourselves and with each other and that opens up space to support each other and to heal together. Giving ourselves space to rest, a lot, a lot more than we think we need to, and lean into community and different types of support even when we don’t think we need to. I think that’s all we can really do right now.

Holly Lowery – Executive Director, Ophelia’s Place

If you’re interested in learning more about the resources at Ophelia’s Place visit their website or call 315-451-5544.

You can also visit Cafe at 407 at:

407 Tulip St.
Liverpool, N.Y.


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For more local news, follow Nicole Sommavilla on Twitter @NeSommavilla.

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