With health care workers serving as soldiers on the front line of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of businesses are working to deliver free meals to medical professionals tirelessly batting in hospitals and medical facilities around America.
Already, initiatives like Feed the Frontlines NYC and Meals4Heroes, along with large chains like Taco Bell, Sweetgreen and Kentucky Fried Chicken are stepping up to feed these medical professionals. The same is happening in Long Island’s backyard, as former U.S. Congressman Steve Israel, Ben’s Deli and United Way of Long Island recently announced a partnership to provide food to medical professionals in hospitals called “Chicken Soup for Health Care Responders.”
The inspiration came to Israel during his self quarantine over a take-out meal from Ben’s Deli. A family member, who is a doctor, told him that some hospital staff responding to the coronavirus were experiencing food shortages. Israel contacted Ben’s Deli owner Ronnie Dragoon and United Way of Long Island President and CEO Theresa Regnante to collaborate on what evolved into the “Chicken Soup for Health Care Responders” program.
The United Way has set up a unique Chicken Soup For Health Care Responders link on their website, www.unitedwayli.org/givechickensoup. Donors can contribute any amount. Funds will be used to pay for cold cut sandwiches, hot dogs, knishes and soups. The food will be packaged to avoid contamination. Ben’s will discount the food, waive its delivery fee and distribute food to hospitals in Nassau and Suffolk. In light of equipment shortages hospitals are facing everywhere, Israel felt this was one of the most direct ways to show support.
“We know that there are critical shortages of personal protective equipment for medical professionals,” he said. “Making sure they have food during their long shifts is easy to solve and we can do it right away. I’m so grateful to Ben’s Deli and United Way for being so responsive.”
Dragoon agreed about providing this kind of direct support.
“In these troubling times, helping to keep our health care first responders nourished is something we can do now,” he said. “Ben’s Vice President Todd Silverstein will coordinate all deliveries to Nassau and Suffolk Counties. He can be reached at 516-621-3340 or on his cell phone at 516-769-7561.”
Silverstein pointed out that while Ben’s will be closed on Wednesday, April 8 for Passover and reopening on Friday, April 17, he’ll still be answering his phone and arranging deliveries for when the company reopens.
Other organizations are already responding to the call put out by Chicken Soup For Health Care Responders. The Central Nassau County Rotary Club and Foundation is donating to the effort. Regnante is grateful to the Central Nassau County Rotary Club for its support and is also steadfast in the importance of this current partnership that’s evolved out of this current COVID-19 situation.
“The health care community is pivotal in this crisis and United Way of Long Island is honored to support former Congressman Israel’s plan to help the workforce,” she said. “This partnership is true to our mission, as it focuses on the health and welfare of Long Islanders.”
Visit www.unitedwayli.org/givechickensoup for more information about getting involved.