Feeding the Front Lines in NYC During the COVID-19 Pandemic
2020 began with so much promise for the Deborah Miller Catering & Events team. Having come off of a very successful 2019 holiday season and our overall best year yet, DMC was excited to kick off a new year and new decade producing wonderful events, catering special moments, and bringing people together with food. However, it turns out 2020 had other plans, for us as a company and for society as a whole.
The novel coronavirus outbreak began to spread within the United States in late February and New York City was declared to pause non-essential business by mid-March. Schools closed, restaurants shuttered, and companies required employees to work from home. Events of all kinds, ranging from massive concerts to standard corporate meetings, were postponed or canceled altogether. Social distancing and sheltering in place became the new normal as individuals fought to mitigate COVID-19 and keep themselves and others healthy.
Our company, offerings built on the complete opposite of social distancing, naturally lost a lot of business in this age of quarantine, as did so many others in the food and hospitality industry. However, Deborah and Lauren, owners of DMC and business partners for over 20 years, felt that there still could be something they could do to help and give back to the NYC community. They also understood that they would have to shift gears completely to make it happen. It quickly became apparent that New York City hospitals, first responders, and other healthcare workers were in need of meals as they became inundated with patients infected with COVID-19. “Food brings people together no matter what the circumstance, and we knew it was our responsibility to bring our resources together and help those on the front lines,” Deborah shares.
Feeding NYC Healthcare Workers and First Responders with Our “Cater Because We Care” Program
Cater Because We Care was born with the intent to feed New York City’s first responders working back-to-back shifts during this outbreak and fighting so hard to save lives. “These healthcare workers are completely overwhelmed, and their next meal is the last thing on their minds,” says Lauren. “Clients we work with regularly called us eager to do something to help, and we started donating subsidized meals on their behalf to various locations. From there, the initiative grew into a comprehensive campaign, where any individual who wants to help can donate a monetary amount, and we would allocate the funds to meals being prepared for the following day.”
Meals are prepared on a five-day rotation in our kitchen in Lower Manhattan. They consist of one protein, one side, and either fruit or dessert served in individual takeout containers to provide a complete and nutritious meal to New York City’s healthcare workers. Deliveries are made daily by the DMC team throughout the city based on hospital locations and workers’ corresponding shifts. As of April 13th, donated meals were sent to Mount Sinai, Beth Israel Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Columbia Presbyterian, St. John's Riverdale Hospital, NYPD, EMT, FDNY, and more. “The biggest challenge is making sure we’re connecting to the right people at the hospitals so that we’re meeting the need,” shares Lauren. “One of the hospitals I spoke with is getting a lot of love during the day, but their overnight shifts are not getting a lot of attention.”
100% of the proceeds donated through this initiative, set up via GoFundMe, will go to feeding those on the front lines, courageously risking their own lives to save the lives of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Here is a breakdown of what various donation denominations can provide:
$12 = 1 meal
$75 = 6-7 meals
$150 = 12-13 meals
$500 = 40+ meals
$1,500 = 125 meals
$5,000 = 400+ meals
$10,000 = 800+ meals
How You Can Help “Cater Because We Care” Succeed
Spreading the word is just as impactful as monetary contributions, too. “We understand more than anyone that the economy is very fragile right now, and both individuals and corporations are being more cautious with their funds,” Deborah acknowledges. “Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and having a few people who share our mission with their network can spread to another 5 people who share and possibly donate, which can result in another 10 people sharing and potentially donating, and so on and so forth.” This is a great opportunity for those who can’t necessarily donate right now to dedicate their time and social resources instead.
As businesses adjust to a new normal and individuals search for ways to help during this crisis, the team at DMC is humbled to be the conduit feeding those on the front lines with their capabilities. “We’ve lived through 9/11. One of our kitchens got flooded in Hurricane Sandy. We’re a surviving business here,” Lauren shares. “We hope to come through this crisis, as well.”To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/cater-because-we-care. Please also follow us on Instagram at @deborahmillercatering, or on Facebook at Deborah Miller Catering & Events.
Stay safe, healthy, and remember that we are all in this together.