NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Healthcare workers and the restaurant industry have both been hit hard by the COVID-19, but a new fundraising effort aims to help both.
Local Meals for Local Heroes was started by three people in Nashville with a goal of supporting both the healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, and restaurants that are struggling to stay afloat.
The concept started in Denver and has now spread to around eight cities across the country. One of the Nashville organizers, Alex Wendkos, owns Dino's restaurant in East Nashville. After reaching out to other local restaurants with the idea, it was obvious there was a lot of interest.
"It means a lot to be able to do something that has a meaningful impact on the community," said Dana Ritterbusch, one of the organizers of Local Meals for Local Heroes.
Donations made through a Go Fund Me page purchase meals from locally-owned restaurants. The meals are then delivered to employees at local hospitals.
As a result, food from restaurants like Burger Up, Hattie B's, Caffe Nonna and more have provided encouragement to employees at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, St. Thomas Midtown Hospital, St. Thomas West and TriStar Skyline Medical Center.
"They seem really grateful that people are paying attention to the sacrifices they are making," said Ritterbusch.
Brandon Ingle, the Director of Operations for Burger Up, said he was happy to provide 50 burgers and fries to employees at St. Thomas West.
"Being able to give back and help people who are actually on the front lines doing things that are wildly important right now feels pretty great."
Ingle said restaurants also appreciate the support, now that all are only offering curbside and delivery.
"Your local restaurant that you want to go eat at all the time, this will help them make it through," said Ingle.
Organizers hope the effort continues to expand to include more restaurants and more hospitals. Specifically, they would like to reach smaller hospitals that haven't received as much attention.
The original fundraising goal of $10,000 has already been surpassed in around 10 days. Organizers hope this is a sign that more great things are ahead.
"We want to keep this going as long as necessary," said Ritterbusch. "The more good we can do, the better."
Donations can be made on the Local Meals for Local Heroes gofundme page.