Apr 4, 2020 - Health

Restaurants step up for health care workers

Illustration of a  takeout box with a red cross on the front

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chefs that can't serve their usual customers are finding ways to use their kitchens to feed health care workers.

Why it matters: Health care workers on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus need support. As chefs step up to offer meals, fundraising for their efforts enables them to hire back some of their laid off staff.

What's happening: From the Bay area to Atlanta to Philadelphia, restaurants and chefs are offering health care workers nourishing and comforting food.

  • Restaurants that offer pick-up and delivery in most cases cannot afford to employ their full staff right now.

Between the lines: Many chefs have found that they can crowdsource funding to hire back some staff, and use their kitchens to make and donate meals — provided they put new practices in place to protect against spreading the virus.

  • José Andres’s World Central Kitchen has partnered with local chefs in numerous cities in these efforts, and many other chefs have stepped up independently.

What they're saying: "When the seriousness set in, I wondered what can I do to help? I know that I can cook and I know that I have a platform and can raise money," chef and author J. Kenji López-Alt told Axios.

  • His restaurant Wursthall has made over 700 meals for staff from Mission Medical Clinic, researchers studying coronavirus at Stanford, and health care providers around the Bay area. He also wrote a guide on food safety and best practices amid coronavirus.
  • Co-owner of The London Plane in Seattle Yasuaki Saito told the Counter that a friend who is a nurse said that "during times of crisis nurses can get lost or forgotten and are expected to give, and give, and give."

The bottom line: Efforts like these and others — like the Frontline Strong Relief Center, which has created its first "Relief Hub" to offer food, rest areas and more for hospital staff at Mt. Sinai in New York — can go a long way towards offering care and compassion to the doctors and nurses caring for the sickest among us.

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