For the past few weeks, we have seen small Filipino businesses and organizations come up with projects to send food and drinks to front-liners and first responders.
Kabisera in the Lower East Side has its coffee runs, where they deliver caffeinated drinks to various hospitals. This week, they were able to log in their 30th delivery.
Then there are hot meals prepared by restaurants and caterers alike.
“At this time, our heroes are fighting the toughest fight to keep people alive. We want to help the best way we know how – through food and by making sure that it nourishes, provides solace and fuels the frontliners that need it most,” explained a social media post, calling for donations in order to keep these operations running.
That call to action came from Ayesha Vera-Yu, CEO and co-founder of the organization Advancement for Rural Kids (ARK), a social impact organization that partners with farmers on a 5-cent school lunch that enables rural communities to stand on their own, and secure their food, kids’ schooling and new income in just three years.
Vera-Yu, together with friends and colleagues who are in the realm of food and community-driven social impact, started the FORK (Friends of Rural Kids) Initiative.
Their goal is to provide nourishing meals to kababayans and their fellow nurses, doctors and aides in hard-hit hospitals. The group has been pooling the donations and they have established a network of partner restaurants to prepare the food, which they will then deliver to a hard hit hospital in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens.
“Our hope is that other kapwa Filipinos in NYC or other parts of the world will have a trusted platform for them to be able to share their love and help,” Vera-Yu said.
Over the past couple of weeks, they have fed frontliners at NYU Langone with the help of donors and partner restaurant, Honeybrains, and the anesthesiology department of Northwell Long Island Jewish Medical Center, delivering food from Atoboy.
“The nurses and doctors have shared how much it makes them feel good to be appreciated,” she added. “One of the nurses shared that the gifted meals [are] really vital because most of them are paying out of pocket for AirBnB or hotels to stay away from their families while they save lives in the hospital.”
Within ten days of operations, the initiative raised $7,000 and has made more than a dozen drops. They are hoping to raise more funds and get to more hospitals.
“The FORK Initiative has also inspired restaurants to give as well. Atoboy funded a lunch for a unit in NYU from their own funds while Kabisera gave free coffee and HoneyBrains gave green drinks alongside the lunches we funded,” Vera Yu added.
The group has partnered with hospitals that are underserved, overwhelmed and where they have a contact who are either nurses or administrators who give them the insight on where there is need.
They aim to keep raising funds and keep operations going “until it dies down”. Based on projections from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, the peak in NYC is from April to May with the tail or decline coming in around July.
Feed Our Warriors
A number of Filipino restaurants in New York have also partnered with organizations and individual donors to provide meals to healthcare workers.
Flip Sigi has its “Feed Our Warriors” program, which provides food to healthcare providers such as nurses, doctors and technicians, during their long shifts.
Through donations, more than 700 meals have been delivered to date in over 40 clinics and hospitals in various hospitals such as Mount Sinai, NYU Langone and Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, Elmhurst Hospital, Bellevue and Memorial Sloane Kettering, among others.
“We’re beyond grateful for everyone in the medical field fighting this virus daily,” Flip Sigi Executive Chef Jordan Andino posted on social media. “All of this is keeping us going…more love, more positivity, more being grateful for what you have, and knowing that more positive moments are to come.”
He has also been busy doing online cooking and sharing his recipes of Filipino classics such as pancit and sinigang.
Tsismis NYC has organized weekly food deliveries to hospitals in collaboration with some of its partners, such as Liga Filipina @nycheroes network and International Wings Factory Phil-Am Foods.
“Let’s show the hardworking hospital staff helping to save our city how much we appreciate their hard work,” Executive Chef Jappy Afzelius said, adding that Tsismis will be holding a fundraiser on May 4 to benefit frontliners at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Ugly Kitchen and Jeepney, both East Village hangout of Filipinos, have brought food to some hospitals in New York City including Elmhurst Hospital in Queens and NYU Langone-Tish Hospital in Manhattan.
In her own call to action post, Jeepney’s Nicole Ponseca said, “Lots of frontliners are not getting fed! We are trying to feed as many people as we can. Some of our Titas tell us they only have Kind Bars to eat all day. This is not the Filipino way!”