FOOD FOR THE FRONT LINES
OUR URGENT MISSION: Feeding our First Responders While Keeping our Restaurants Alive.
THE CHALLENGE: Every day due to the COVID-19 crisis, over 1,000 of Fairfield County’s nurses, doctors, EMS workers and police are emotionally drained and famished after logging back-to-back shifts. At the same time, our local restaurants are laying off workers and scrambling to reinvent their businesses.
THE SOLUTION: Food For The Front Lines IS a grassroots fundraising initiative that HAS ramped up quickly to provide workers on the front lines of the pandemic with hot meals while providing over 35 struggling restaurants with large orders that feed entire hospital floors and EMS units.
EXPERIENCED MANAGEMENT: Westporter Nicole Straight, the former director for Fairfield’s Food Rescue USA-CT, knew that there had to be an effective way to get people fed while putting money back into food workers’ pockets. Beginning on March 15, as the dimensions of the crisis became clear, Straight launched Food for The Front Lines and in three weeks raised more than $40,000 through individual donations and delivered more than 2,040 meals to area hospitals, EMS workers and ER departments, while keeping a roster of restaurant workers employed. The organization recently joined forces with Social Venture Partners - CT, CTBites, local marketing experts and Wakeman Town Farm to streamline logistics and further scale up deliveries to hospitals and EMS sites in Bridgeport, Stamford, Greenwich, Trumbull, and Norwalk.
DISCIPLINED PROCESS: Food for the Front Lines interfaces directly with one point person at each of the local hospitals and EMS departments, assessing need and creating an advance schedule of food drops. Straight is assisted by Ria Rueda, a restaurant marketing specialist and owner of Bread + Butter Marketing, who interfaces directly with each restaurant to arrange the logistics of how many meals they will serve that week to a particular hospital/EMS locale. Together, they create an advance calendar that guides restauranteurs about how much food to order and how to staff up for a particular week, and how much income they can expect on a large order.
COSTS: The price point per individually packaged order is $15. This includes a nourishing hot meal, delivery (by the restaurant), tax and tip. So, when a restaurant gets an order for 200 meals, it can count on a cash infusion of $3,000. The program has enabled restaurateurs to pay their staffers who live paycheck to paycheck with no safety net.
IMPACT: Food for the Front Lines has alleviated the burden on already-stressed hospital administrators who are overwhelmed with good-meaning donations by providing a streamlined and organized system of deliveries. During this crisis, it’s an unwelcome burden for hospitals to have to try to manage or turn away individual donations. A wonderful intangible impact of the program is providing a morale boost to workers who are in a proverbial war zone.
TESTIMONIAL: Says Santosh Vaghela, an ICU Fellow at Norwalk Hospital, “THANK YOU for what you’ve done for our staff!! It is such a relief to have one less thing to think about during our hectic day, and the food has been AMAZING!”
For more information, click here to watch an informative story on NBC local news.