Feed the Frontline: Emory coordinates meal programs for healthcare workers

Avalon Catering prepares food for frontline medical workers.

Hospital workers and first responders put themselves at risk and work long shifts in the fight against COVID-19 so we can receive care or stay home and be safe.  We thank them with 8 p.m. cheers, hand-made window and chalk signs and now with a delicious lunch or take-home dinner.

“We started to hear that a meal that was nutritious, delicious and healthy would really mean a lot.  Also, we were seeing reports of the restaurant industry being so impacted,” said, Alex Brown, Emory University Senior Associated Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Engagement.

Emory’s Advancement team is coordinating two large-scale feeding programs that collect donations to boost the morale of health care workers and support staff in emergency rooms, plus police and fire rescue first responders, while also providing stability to the ravaged restaurant industry.

“We are like air traffic controllers – coordinating logistics with restaurants and hospital administrations, handling payments to the restaurants,” Brown said.

Feed the Frontline, which started with direction and funding from the James M. Cox Foundation, the Douglas J. Hertz Family Foundation and R. Harold and Patsy Harrison Foundation has raised more than $1 million from 1,300+ individuals, corporations and foundations.

Launched in early April,  19 Atlanta-area hospitals in the Emory Healthcare, Grady, Piedmont, Atlanta VA, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Northside Hospital, Shepherd Center and WellStar health systems plus Atlanta police officers and firefighters – receive lunches twice a week.

Chef Juan Montier of Chez Montier Catering prepares pasta salad for meal boxes.

Participating restaurants and catering groups include Avalon Catering, Bazati Atlanta, Chez Montier Catering, DAS BBQ, Fifth Group/Bold Catering, Chef Linton and Gina Hopkins, Local Three, Southern Proper Hospitality, and Tamarind Restaurant Group with local ingredients sourced through Georgia Organics and other local producers.

“We are thankful that this critical effort is helping to keep us working while allowing us the opportunity to provide meals and comfort to caregivers on the front lines of this global pandemic,” said Judith Service Montier, Chez Montier Catering Chief Operating Officer.

Feed the Frontline is now delivering 9,500+ meals per week.

“We have funding to run this program through mid-May. We believe we will need to continue it through the end of May,” Brown said, recognizing that the end of the pandemic remains unknown.

A note of thanks goes inside every meal box.

The second program, Healthcare Heroes, supplies a take-home dinner for two. State Farm and the Atlanta Hawks Foundation teamed up with UPS and Structor Group to raise almost $500,000 to serve Grady and Emory health care workers as they finished a twelve-hour shift.

“The chefs are taking special care to make sure these meals are comforting in addition to convenient,” Brown said.

Participating restaurants include Miller Union, Storico Fresco and Antico who now provide 5,200 meals per week.

“What’s impressed us so much is how many people essentially want to hug a health care worker – that’s been uplifting,” Brown said.

To make a donation to either program, visit feedthefrontline.emory.edu.

This story originally appeared in our special May online-only edition. Click the image to read the entire issue.