Café makes mouth-watering meals meaningful for moms

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There’s just something about the bonds a new mother creates, not just with her newborn, but also with the people who helped her along the journey. While the intense experience can be rewarding, it’s also exhausting.

Emily Weisberg created those very bonds while pregnant with her third child. Her prenatal support network included Myla Flores and Emilie Rodriguez, with Flores going as far as being Weisberg’s doula — her trained companion — during childbirth. And while the women forging a bond during Weisberg’s pregnancy and childbirth might have been inevitable, one thing they couldn’t foresee it leading to was a business partnership.

When a family brings home a new baby, there are many new adjustments that must be made. And understandably, some aspects of life might need to take a backseat, no matter how essential they are. But this Bronx trio of women has banded together to ensure meals and nutrition don’t fall by the wayside in the days and weeks following the birth of a child.

“I stayed in touch with them, I stayed in touch with the work that they were doing, and it was very close to my heart,” Weisberg said. “I thought it was really important work. So I continued to try and think of ways that we could partner. And I saw Emilie posted something about a growing need (of) making meals for postpartum women and families.”

Weisberg is the owner of Moss Café on Johnson Avenue, a business she feels is closely tied to her motherhood journey. Especially after realizing she could use her café’s resources to provide nutritious meals for other families in the Bronx welcoming a newborn.

Before long, a partnership was born among the women. Flores and Rodriguez already were regulars at Moss Café, but now they were also officially business partners.

Rodriguez is the founder of Ashe Birthing Services, a Bronx-based group of birth and postpartum doulas. Flores has her own organization, a developing birth center called The Birthing Place. Both are groups where forging mutual support with mothers is essential. Creating a meal delivery service for new moms and their families? That’s a no-brainer.

“I think it was a really good fit, because Moss cooks with a lot of love,” Rodriguez said. “This provides a level of support that most people don’t have. And you can kind of taste the love in their food.”

Even for families who might have typically established a support network of relatives and friends in the first days and weeks following childbirth, the coronavirus pandemic has made providing that support a bit more difficult. Although more people are getting vaccinated, some still might not feel comfortable having others outside of their “bubble” around a newborn — even if it’s to help out around the house. Or cook meals.

“Even (for) people who do have a grandma, say in New Jersey or Connecticut or maybe even a whole plane ride away, it’s not like you can just say, ‘All right, come on over,’” Flores said. “It’s a unique time. And you should be able to have something home-cooked, and warm and cozy.”

The meals Moss Café provides are either pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan, and the eatery can cater to each family’s dietary preferences and needs. 

But at the end of the day, Weisberg said, it’s about nourishment and comfort for the family.

“We worked together to develop a menu of things based on Myla and Emilie’s expertise around what foods would be especially nourishing,” Weisberg said. “It was kind of a cool process because they could bring in their sense of what these families would need, in terms of what ingredients would be really helpful, what kinds of food would be really helpful (and) what foods to avoid.”

For some families, that might include homemade vegetable broth or tea. For others, a frittata or fruit. Every family’s needs are different, and sometimes those families need convenience and accessibility in addition to nourishment.

Like if a mother is nursing, she might not be able to eat something requiring utensils. So Weisberg makes sure grab-and-go items like yogurt, apples and muffins also make their way into the food deliveries. That allows mothers to hold their babies and their food at the same time.

Weisberg also wants to ensure those meals are available to as many people as possible — and not just for those inside Riverdale. She’s offering meal deliveries to any corner of the Bronx.

And to Rodriguez, that’s part and parcel of making a life here.

“Being from the Bronx and living here, I think that we are used to coming up with our own solutions to things,” she said. “While it’s super important that some people — like Myla — work on policy and legislation, I think I’m really proud that as a city and as a town, we come together. 

“I hope to provide support to these families that we can help. One family at a time, one birth at a time, one postpartum journey at a time makes a really big difference.”

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