Amid the coronavirus outbreak across the country, healthcare workers have been put on the front lines of dealing with a rapidly spreading disease. With many looking for ways to show their support to those who are fighting COVID-19, a new effort is collecting donations to bring coffee, treats and meals to those working in medical settings in the St. Louis area.
Lunches for Clinicians STL is raising money via GoFundMe to bring meals to local healthcare professionals. The concept started in Denver, but local organizers – Jesse Stuart, director of operations for Crispy Edge; Bailey Shafer, a speech-language pathologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital; Natalie Biagi, an RN who formerly worked at Barnes and is now working COVID crisis assignments on the West Coast; and Jack Sheehan, assistant vice president and project manager at U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation – have work closed with the Colorado team to start efforts locally.
The group has already had three successful drops: They delivered coffee and pastries from Coma Coffee to Memorial Hospital's staff in Belleville, Illinois, brought sandwiches from Uncle Nick's Deli to the same hospital's night staff and delivered 90 meals to St. John's Mercy Medical Center on April 1.
Stuart and Shafer are cousins, and since one works in the restaurant industry and the other in the healthcare industry, they were easily able to figure out where meals could come from and where they should go.
"It was just a really nice marriage of different networks and connections," Shafer says. "We felt like it'd be a really great way to reach as many people as possible."
The benefit of Lunch for Clinicians is two-fold: Not only are those receiving the meals benefiting, but purchasing the meals helps restaurants and other local businesses that are struggling through the COVID-19 crisis.
"We're working with restaurants, different food providers to kind of work off their menu, see what works, and then as we get in touch with other hospitals and healthcare providers, just coordinating the best time for us to deliver these drops," Stuart says.
More deliveries are being planned as funds are raised; Lunch for Clinicians estimates that $5,000 can buy around 500 lunches, 300 pizzas, 2,000 bagels or pastries or 1,000 coffees for healthcare workers. The GoFundMe has already hit $8,000, and those who want to help can donate here.