With few students to feed, some food trucks are turning their attention to provide meals to hospital workers around D.C.
TwentyTables – which makes a donation for every dish purchased from a participating food truck – launched “Feed the Front Lines,” an initiative that pays food trucks to prepare meals for health care workers. Alex Cohen, the founder of TwentyTables, said the project is a way to provide resources to health care workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, while food truck owners said the project helps keep their workers employed.
“When GW and the students were sent home, what TwentyTables did was turn our attention to the need at hand, which is supporting our health care workers,” Cohen said. “We’re orchestrating an effort to provide relief to frontline workers in the form of free meals that our vendors are providing.”
The project receives funding from a GoFundMe page, which has received more than $11,000 so far from D.C. residents. Cohen said for every $700 raised, a food truck is assigned a hospital to prepare and deliver about 100 meals, and the participating food truck takes a disclosed portion of the profit.
Paco’s Tacos’ food truck made its first delivery last Tuesday, delivering 100 meals to Children’s National Hospital. An additional 300 meals will be provided to the GW Hospital and the Medical Faculty Associates by the end of the week, he said.
“We’re giving 300 meals to the GW community because of both the size of the population they serve as well as the depth and nature of our special relationship with the campus,” he said.
Cohen said hospitals can choose to receive regular food truck service or request pre-packaged and labeled meals to be delivered and dropped off at the hospital’s entrance, which Cohen said health care workers typically choose “for obvious reasons.” Medical workers can also select which food truck they want their meals from.
Instead of preparing meals in food trucks, Cohen said participating vendors are operating out of commercial and private kitchens, working with the food product supplier Performance Food Group for supplies.
Cohen added that food trucks working with TwentyTables are teaming up with residential buildings to provide meals around D.C. He said he expects that most of the trucks working with TwentyTables will be able to make it out of the pandemic with enough funds to continue providing meals.
“This is an effort where everybody wins,” he said. “These small businesses are getting work. Hospital workers are getting fed and appreciated.”
After the first delivery to Children’s National Hospital, Cohen said health care workers sent a note to “Feed the Front Lines” to thank them. The hospital workers said the project was a “meaningful” way to show that people care about their work during the pandemic, he said.
“We’ve gotten feedback from nurses and administrators that the food is one thing, but the morale boost that it’s providing to know that people are thinking about these frontline workers in their time of service and our time of need,” Cohen said. “It’s very powerful.”
Giuseppe Lanzone, the co-owner of Peruvian Brothers, said the food truck delivered meals consisting of empanadas and salad to Sibley Memorial Hospital Thursday.
“They want to be able to feed 100, 200, 300 people at a time and they know they can count on us to deliver things in volume,” Lanzone said, referring to the project. “We work together, and we work together very well.”
Lanzone said Peruvian Brothers has taken a financial hit during this pandemic, but “Feed the Front Lines” has allowed the business to keep employees working while feeding those fighting the coronavirus.
“They’re doing great for all of us that need these big orders to keep giving people work,” he said.
Paco’s Tacos served MedStar Washington Friday, Waffle World served the GW Hospital Monday and Jerk at Nite will serve Howard University Hospital Tuesday, Cohen said.
Sam Sehnouni, the owner of Waffle World, said he planned to serve chicken and waffles to GW Hospital workers Monday. He said he hopes to take part in more hospital deliveries in the coming weeks.
“Everything that has happened of late has hurt our business, everyone has been hurt,” Sehnouni said. “We’re trying to do something that is the best for everyone.”