Three friends are responsible for launching the Kansas City chapter of Frontline Foods, a national fundraising program that helps feed local hospital workers meals made by local restaurant workers. The organization works in partnership with chef José Andrés’ international nonprofit culinary relief program World Central Kitchen.
Brad Friedman, Marc Kingston and Louis Stein were spending their days working from home due to COVID-19 when they began to ask themselves what more they could do to help the Kansas City community during this uncertain time.
One of them had a connection through a friend of a friend to one of the founders of Frontline Foods, so they reached out to see how they could start a chapter in Kansas City. Within weeks, the 100 percent volunteer program launched its first fundraising phase on social media on April 24, with marketing help from a fourth friend, Ben Heisler. After that, each of the men took a role and got to work coordinating with hospitals and enlisting local restaurants.
In Kansas City, Frontline Foods has raised more than $4,500 to date, with the ultimate goal of surpassing $10,000 to help feed local medical workers healthy meals prepared by local restaurants during this time of need.
“Our local businesses, especially restaurants, are struggling, and our hospital workers have been pushed past exhaustion as they try to save as many lives that they can,” explains Bradley Friedman, lead manager/organizer for Frontline Foods KC. “We hope during this time that we can bring a little light into the days of others by sending funds to local restaurants and also helping feed all these people taking care of loved ones and doing everything they can to get them back home.”
Frontline Foods has established guidelines that help each chapter get off the ground as quickly as possible. The local Kansas City team is currently looking for hospitals in needs of meals and is recruiting local restaurants that are located in the same community to get the meals delivered hot and fast. The goal is to partner with local independently-owned restaurants, as opposed to corporate chains or franchises.
To be considered for Frontline Foods, each restaurant needs to be able to make 50 meals with each portion packaged separately, not family-style. Eating utensils may need to be provided. Each restaurant will be assigned a local hospital to serve depending on where it is located, and it will need to have staff available to deliver to the hospital.
Each meal should cost around $10 to $15 or less, serving a balance of diets like omnivore, vegan and vegetarian, and must be able to accept an electronic payment via an ACH deposit.
Nationally, Frontline Foods has expanded into 52 different cities to date, with help from local volunteers in each city. The organization has raised more than $4,300,000, which has translated to over 215,000 meals delivered to hospital, police, fire and EMT employees nationwide.
Frontline Foods fueled its expansion by partnering with World Central Kitchen, a 501c3, which means all donations made to Frontline Foods are 100 percent tax deductible. All of the money raised, and money paid to the restaurants to make the meals, comes though World Central Kitchen.
Bloom Baking Co. owner Sarah Darby previously worked as a registered nurse for 15 years, and is proud to be one of several local restaurants to date who have already signed up to help feed the frontline in Kansas City. Other participating restaurants include Teocali and Burnt Ends BBQ.
“The Kansas City community continues to look for ways to help our frontline heroes,” Darby says. “A meal delivered to these workers during their shift means more than just a bite to eat – it reminds them that the city is supporting them.”
Frontline Foods KC, frontlinefoods.org/kansas-city/