When a simple 'thank you' isn't enough, send food

As much as they require masks and other personal protective equipment to do their jobs, the medical personnel toiling on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic have other, even more basic needs: the need to be fed.

As much as they require masks and other personal protective equipment to do their jobs, the medical personnel toiling on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic have other, even more basic needs.

Like the need to be fed.

Recognizing that doctors and nurses working long, stressful shifts often don’t have time to eat, or have no food options available during night hours, networks of volunteers and charitable groups across the U.S. have swung into action delivering free meals to them.

One of the largest initiatives is a network called Frontline Foods, which has raised $1.1 million in donations to pay for at least 20,000 meals delivered to healthcare workers in 33 cities. The group’s grassroots volunteers work with local restaurants to provide the meals, thereby helping another industry ravaged by the pandemic.

In San Francisco, where some of the finest restaurants have joined the effort, healthcare workers have been treated to meals as sumptuous as duck confit, topped off with desserts like sea-salt caramel bread pudding.

In suburban Memphis, a ride-share driver was inspired to begin delivering burgers and other meals for healthcare workers after picking up a nurse who asked to be driven to a fast food restaurant on the way home from a hospital shift because she was hungry.

Another initiative in the area, Feed the Front Lines Memphis, lets donors choose to give as little as $15 to pay for one meal, to as much as $2,250 to fund meals for an entire shift.

“Help us branch out to the rest of our local healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 & keeping the rest of us safe,” the group’s website says.

Still another, Feed the Frontline 901 (Memphis' area code), was modeled after an initiative begun in New Orleans. It mobilizes musicians who have lost gigs as a result of the pandemic, paying them to deliver food from local restaurants to healthcare workers.

The effort to contain and roll back the pandemic often has been likened to a war. And the army fighting it, as the old maxim goes, marches on its stomach.

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