Angelica Penta, who stepped into the national spotlight in 2019 when she took on the Warwick School department for "shaming" students who failed to pay for their lunches by giving them sun butter sandwiches, has been named the Grand Marshal of the Gaspee
Angelica Penta, who stepped into the national spotlight in 2019 when she took on the Warwick School department for “shaming” students who failed to pay for their lunches by giving them sun butter sandwiches, has been named the Grand Marshal of the Gaspee Days Parade to be held June 12. Karen Kenney, Chairperson of the 56th annual Gaspee Days Parade made the announcement this week.
Angelica and Mike Penta are the owners of Gel’s Kitchen in West Warwick and Gel’s II in Warwick. Angelica’s longtime passion to cook and bake for those she loves is the motivation behind her success in the restaurant business. Angelica points out she “lost sleep and money trying to make her dream come true.”
Angelica’s businesses have been able to weather the challenges COIVD 19 presented this year. Angelica recognized her community was in need during the pandemic and she knew she had the skills to help. The same drive and determination Angelica used to create two Rhode Island businesses she used to support Rhode Islanders.
In January 2019, when the Warwick Public Schools faced national outcry over the student lunch debt, Angelica and Mike initiated an effort to provide funding for those unable to afford school lunches. Angelica was able to raise $4,000, however, school administration refused the money, because of concerns about being able to distribute the money that was legally acceptable and equitable among the over 1,600 students that had accrued debt.
Angelica helped turn the initial donation into more than $50,000, after she took to Facebook to air her grievances. Her post attracted nationwide attention and resulted in thousands of dollars in donations through online campaigns. She worked alongside local families to ensure students had something to eat during the day, channeling her love of cooking into an act of goodwill.
“Angelica has shown what is good about Rhode Island, by being a giver in the most trying of times. She has shown us what community means by putting others before herself,” said Parade Chair Karen Kenney.
Angelica, a mother and navigating two businesses, began to organize relief for her community. In the past year, Angelica started food pantries in both her restaurants, baked for families who lost loved ones, raised funds for students in need at local schools as well as created raffles for local business to support Rhode Islanders in need. “Angelica’s sheer will and determination made a difference in RI. She only wants to give back to her the community,” points out Gaspee Parade Chair Karen Kenney.
The 56th annual Gaspee Days Parade with Angelica Penta as Grand Marshal will be held on Saturday June 12th at 10:00 am.