05 Aug COVID Heroes: Feeding Workers, Putting Restaurants Back to Work
We’re six months into this miserable disease and there’s little to feel good about. Yet stories emerge of truly heroic people who are manning soup kitchens, putting in 14-hour days in healthcare facilities and fueling supply chains to help save lives. Now independent groups have come together as “Frontline Foods”. An estimated 1,000 volunteers have delivered more than 541,000 meals.
“It’s been an incredible experience,” said Alexis Perlmutter, one of the Frontline Foods volunteers leading Chicago’s efforts. “This would not be possible without an army of volunteers that is rolling up their sleeves to solve problems together.”
Frontline Foods works with World Central Kitchen, a global nonprofit, delivering fresh meals to essential workers
Bringing meals to hospitals in a safe and organized fashion can be extremely difficult, said Nate Mook, the chief executive of World Central Kitchen. But World Central Kitchen has the expertise to help. Having served communities ravaged by disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, it has stepped in to coordinate these separate fundraising initiatives.
- World Central Kitchen has served more than a million meals in more than 95 cities across the country.
- It has also been working in seven cities in Spain, which had one of the world’s highest coronavirus mortality rates.
- In one week, the Chicago’s Frontline Foods teamed up with 10 restaurants and delivered more than 1,000 meals to six hospitals.
- In New York, World Central Kitchen set up a distribution site at Hudson Yards to serve the staff at the makeshift hospital in the Jacob K. Javits Center. The organization is also planning to bring daily meals to roughly 30,000 professionals working in the city’s public hospitals and health clinics, with support from Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.
- In Washington DC, World Central Kitchen staffers cooked 8,000 meals/day for homeless people, older residents and essential workers, including firefighters and police officers.
World Central Kitchen: Helping restaurants whose businesses have slowed or closed
We all have our favorite neighborhood bars and restaurants, many of them now shuttered. Those lucky enough to have outdoor seating have reopened, but we know they’re limping along. We wonder how long they can hang on, what our neighborhoods will look like when this is all over. Happily, World Central Kitchen is extending a hand.
World Central Kitchen is providing administrative and financial backing to Frontline Foods and other grassroots groups, like Off Their Plate, which has operations from Boston to Seattle. “We’re good at moving quickly,” said Tim Kilcoyne, the director of chef operations at World Central Kitchen. Yet given how widespread the current health crisis is, he said, “the only way we would be able to help as many people as possible is with partners.”
Other collaborations are underway in Oakland
- World Central Kitchen has delivered thousands of meals from dozens of local restaurants to medics at drive-through testing sites, homeless residents in transitional housing, seniors and at-risk youth.
- Kingston 11, a Jamaican restaurant that has been contributing to those relief efforts, has hired back more than half of its back-of-house staff, said Sam Chapple-Sokol, who works for World Central Kitchen in Oakland. “They’re open three days a week right now, because of the limited demand and the limited ability,” he said.
- World Central Kitchen has also been creating opportunities for food delivery workers. It has connected with Uber Eats and other delivery companies to bring meals from local restaurants to front-line workers and others in need in Los Angeles, Newark and New York, as well as Washington and Oakland.
If someone is hungry, you start cooking
The motivation behind the organization’s work comes from the can-do attitude of its founder, the celebrity chef and activist José Andrés, said Mr. Chapple-Sokol. “If somebody is hungry,” he said, “you just get in the kitchen and start cooking.”
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This article is based on a story in The New York Times.