Bringing Nourishment to Frontline Caregivers and the Local Restaurant Community

BY CHRISTINE VAZQUEZ

Restaurants are the heartbeat of our communities. They are where we gather with friends for everything from celebrating baby showers to engagement parties. We join our co-workers at them for holiday parties. We go on first dates. Sometimes we take ourselves out for a meal, by ourselves, because we just want to be among others, listening to the cacophony of our community, as we enjoy a beautiful meal. And maybe a bottle of wine, too. We romanticize restaurants because they enchant us. And in so many ways, they are idealistic and heroic. Never more than now. 

There was a fast mobilization of efforts across the country to feed our frontline healthcare workers. Frontline Foods was one of the first. A partnership with the venerable Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen, an organization that is already well-versed in meeting the sustenance needs of those in crisis. No one is making more of a noble sacrifice than the men and women on the front lines of this pandemic. And who better to provide meals, than our community restaurants. A perfect marriage. Frontline Foods is a grassroots organization, whose Denver chapter was born only a month ago. ​100% of money raised goes directly to local restaurants enabling them to keep their kitchens open. They currently have 600+ volunteers in 50+ chapters nationwide, along with our recently opened Denver chapter, overseen by Lead, Brittany Myers and assisted by Kelsey Schwab, co-owner of Truffle Cheese Shop, along with a team of ten volunteers. 

There are few industries that have been harder hit than the restaurant industry, in all of this. Virtually overnight, thousands of these businesses were no longer able to operate. Businesses the community relied on. Ones that brought nourishment and enrichment. Hundreds of thousands of hospitality workers lost their jobs. Smart, new measures were put in place relatively quickly. Restaurants could operate on a curbside and carryout basis. And after that, it was announced they could also offer carryout liquor, which in the restaurant game, is typically where much of the profit comes from. It was a game-changer. The mood began to brighten somewhat.  

So far, Frontline Foods has partnered with twenty Denver restaurants to provide 10,000 meals to healthcare workers in every department from ICU to the sanitation workers across fifteen medical center locations. As of late April, $155,000 has been raised and given back to these restaurants so that they can provide for our frontline workers. Restaurants, including The Bindery, Chook Chicken, Konjo, Northside Market + Eatery, Snooze, Ohana Island Kitchen, Dio Mio, Work & Class, and many more, have stepped up to cook meals. Chook, for example, has turned their kitchen into one almost exclusively supporting Frontline. As of press date, they’ve made 1200 meals for healthcare professionals. A truly impressive number. Each restaurant is paid full menu price, due to the generous donations of the community — individuals, businesses and corporations — so they can continue to operate and employ staff in this uncertain, unprecedented time. 

Since lockdown, we’ve seen small businesses everywhere pulling together to help one another in an overwhelming sense of camaraderie, and the Denver restaurant community has been at the forefront of this mission. Frontline Foods Denver lead Brittany Myers details the support as she’s witnessed it firsthand.  “Being able to witness the Denver community coming together to support one another has been a remarkable experience. We have been able to witness larger restaurateurs forgo orders, offer up staff and kitchen space in order to support smaller restaurants with limited access to resources. Competition is not as relevant, restaurants across Denver are working together as a family to weather this storm together.

Our program is helping to keep the lights on at restaurants and showing thousands of frontline workers that the community has their back. In our Denver community, we have received countless testimonies of how our program has enabled restaurant managers to hire back staff to fill our orders. The frontline workers we’re supporting say morale has lifted significantly as a result of the outpouring of support and love from the community. The generosity and kindness is truly what keeps our frontlines going!” 

The effort continues in full force, run by a dedicated team of local volunteers, and can only do so with your support. Please visit our website and donate at  frontlinefoods.org/denver to show appreciation to our frontline workers, while supporting local Denver restaurants. 100% of proceeds go directly to local Denver restaurants. We are actively seeking advocates for our mission. Please post about us on social media channels to raise awareness of our cause. The more awareness we receive, the more money we can raise to continue supporting restaurants and our frontline workers.

The kitchen is without a doubt where everyone at your party ends up, despite the square footage of your home. There is a reason for this. The heart, the love and comfort reside in the kitchen and this couldn’t be more apparent than with the work of our local restaurants right now when the strength of our community is needed more than ever. Words can’t describe our gratitude for the volunteers, donors, restaurant workers and, of course, our beloved frontline workers. Thank you for offering some thread of a silver lining in this time of uncertainty.

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