FEED THE FRONTLINES NYC…read on, please.
I felt paralyzed in March. Not with preparations for myself or loved ones nearby with Stay at Home orders in West Virginia for the coronavirus pandemic. I’d been here working on a book since January, so I’m staying put. But paralyzed in writing. Not my book, but this second blog post for my two-month old website. What could I possibly add of any value to the cacophony about the pandemic? Not only has the virus spread throughout the world now but coverage of it as well.
Then I remembered what I wanted this site and blog to be about. Others. Helping others. Showcasing others. As I listen to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings, it’s the gut-wrenching numbers told with his compassion that punch me in the heart every day now.
What can I do? Right now? What can WE do? When so many people everywhere need help.
I searched and then I found it. FEED THE FRONTLINES NYC.
You can’t get more direct than buying meals from some NYC restaurants that go straight into the hands of those Medical Professionals working directly with COVID-19 patients around the clock in NYC hospitals.
A two-front assistance for the frontlines. Help the frontline medical professionals by delivering delicious and healthy meals, while keeping those employed who prepare the meals and deliver them– the other frontline. And keep the restaurants in business also.
First things first. You can help New York by going to FEED THE FRONTLINES NYC’S Buy Meals page and purchase meals as a one-time, weekly or monthly basis. You may even choose which medical facility you want your meals to go to in the drop-down menu under “Designation Label” and they will try to do that.
If you belong to an organization, sports team or a church, you could pool your money and donate more meals. They accept credit cards, PayPal and even bank transfers. So easy.
This is a project, not a non-profit, and your donation pays for the price of a meal, which includes the cost of food, wages, packaging, delivery, rent, sales tax and utilities. Just like when you buy a home-delivered meal for yourself or buy take-out. Instead of home, you are taking it straight to the frontline.
How did this get started?
Feed the Frontlines NYC was started by Luca Di Pietro, owner of the Tarallucci e Vino restaurant group. On March 16, all New York restaurants and bars were ordered to close except for delivery and take-out. He had to shut down four of five of his restaurants and lay off 95 of 102 employees.
A family friend from Toronto, Adair Roberts, reached out and wanted to help Luca and the healthcare workers caring for coronavirus patients. On March 19, Adair purchased 40 dinners and Luca and his wife, Kate, delivered 40 lasagna, panini and salad dinners to a NYC hospital’s ER team.
Planted out of necessity and generosity, Luca decided to grow this idea: feed the medical professionals on the frontlines throughout the city and bring back employees he had to lay off, plus keep his and some other restaurants from going under.
What a great idea! Helping two different communities help each other. Really three. It’s helping keep the restaurants afloat. I looked up the meaning of Tarallucci e Vino and basically it means ‘all ends well and can be resolved at the end of the day’ with the classic southern Italian cookie and a glass of wine. A fitting offering of hope as New York is going through a devastating crisis, along with the rest of the country and world, and the medical staffs need these meals during their long shifts.
I spoke with Isabella Di Pietro, Luca’s daughter who helped design the website in 18 hours with her friend, Edith Herwitz. Both college seniors and classmates in Boston had just returned home. Her brother Ian, a college freshman also home now, pitched into help assuming email and other duties.
Once word got out and news media covered their project, meal requests grew rapidly. “We serve 1,200 meals a day now and we work with other restaurants,” said Isabella.
Medical staff can easily order on the website with 24-hour notice of delivery time and a 25-meal minimum. While that may seem like a lot, we have all seen the escalating numbers for New York hospitals inundated with pandemic patients. The multitude of medical personnel treating coronavirus patients have little time to eat while working around that stressful clock. This has been welcome nourishment for them.
Isabella said it’s now become a joint effort with other restaurants also, putting even more restaurant employees back to work in these NYC restaurants- Mesa Coyoacan, Zona Rosa and Tosca. The menu ranges from paninis to lasagna to tacos and more. Donavan’s Pub, adding Irish food to the mix, signed up as I was writing this.
“Each meal is individually packaged,” Isabella explained, and wrapped utensils and a napkin are given. Safety and convenience matter when medical professionals are taking care of coronavirus patients. All the meals at Tarallucci e Vino and the other restaurants are prepared in accordance with Department of Health guidelines for hygiene and safety.
As Luca and his family raise more funds, they hope to bring in more restaurant partners so more workers can be put back to work. Other cities have created their own Feed The Frontlines project. Adair started one in Toronto, and two of Isabella’s friends started Boston’s and one in Marin, CA. If you are interested in starting one for your area, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I asked Isabella what else I could do. “Please stay home,” she said. And she’s right. Stay Home. For New York. For your town. For yourself.
If you have the means to buy just one meal right now for NYC medical professionals and help Isabella and her family’s employees, plus the other restaurants, please do so. I know it’s tough everywhere. But there are some of us who are able help. I thank you so much!
Do I have a NYC connection?
A little bit. We all remember 9-11. Those of us old enough. We were an army family at that time and served 14 more years. Plus we lived in New Jersey in the late 90s when my daughter Ursula was in second and third grade before that. Hearts are with the Tri-Cities, as with the rest of country and world, as their medical teams respond to the Covid- 19 pandemic crisis, putting their own lives on the line.
It was when Ursula moved to New York City a few years ago that I truly experienced the city. New York stole my heart. Ursula was a New Yorker for over five years and is a Columbia University alum with an MFA in screenwriting and directing. She now lives in Los Angeles and has been quarantined at home for over three weeks, along with her partner Emerson. They were in NYC together those five years and I have great memories there with them.
NY stole my heart again during Ursula’s film premiere of CRICK IN THE HOLLER at the Lincoln Center in 2017- a film made in my hometown in West Virginia where over a dozen New York cast and crew came together with five dozen West Virginia film folks. It’s on Seed & Spark, an online film platform. Ursula wrote and directed the film and Emerson produced. We are donating to Feed The Frontlines NYC on behalf of the film’s cast and crew.
Before the premiere though, I got to know some of the cast and crew as a co-producer (and mom) when they represented New York in my home state of WV. That experience of filming in my hometown, and bringing 83 folks together from three states, was amazing. I worry about them right now. How are they doing? How are their families? Do they need anything?
Plus, Ursula’s graduation in 2018 and other NY trips are on my mind right now. The friends made there. Graduation is something so many parents are going to miss across the country this Spring.
I visit every restaurant and tea shop I’ve been to in NYC in my mind right now. Pier 1 on the Hudson with its magnificent skyline is one of my favorite’s at night. New York has mountains, too. Of concrete and steel.
I’m going to write about some of my NY experiences and post photos later. I want to focus on Feeding the Frontlines NYC.
As I sit here in WV, I think about our Easter plans and how Ursula was supposed to be here this week. We haven’t seen each other in a while. But we are all living a different story than planned right now. Each one of us.
Some heart crushing and some heart-warming. Some of both. FEED THE FRONTLINES NYC and Isabella, Luca, Kate, Ian and other New Yorkers surely. Along with the medical folks they are delivering to every day now.
Hearts are heavy in many places across the world. New York lost over 700 people last night as I write this. Adding to the thousands already gone. Let that sink in a moment.
Could we help New York City for even just one day? With one meal?
Help a nurse or an ambulance driver who is so exhausted that this might be that one thing that lifts them up and gives them the energy to make it through this day. Or night.
If you can, please Buy A Meal. If not, I understand. Many can’t right now.
FEED THE FRONTLINES NYC and other food projects will also receive some donations from my CaféPress Store- Gena In General. And my second shop WV STAYED HOME features many WV items and proceeds will be shared with WV food banks.
I’m not a designer but I created these items as a way for me to assist folks during this pandemic who need it, including those in WV. I’ll write more about this later. Be safe friends!
*Medical and restaurant photos provided by Feed The Frontlines NYC.