From ube drinks to lumpia: East Coast Fil-Ams feed health care front-liners

Kabisera delivers drinks to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday, April 16.

With health care workers fighting on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, several Filipino American restaurants and groups are expressing their appreciation by delivering meals and other essential supplies.

Kabisera, a cafe in Manhattan’s East Village, has been doing “coffee runs” — serving caffeinated beverages and merienda (snacks) — for the past 10 days to city hospitals, such as Mount Sinai Beth Israel and NYU Langone.

Owner Augee Francisco, who has a nursing background, said it started when a local church collected funds and partnered with her to deliver 70 cups of coffee.

Augee Francisco of Kabisera prepares the drinks for their “Coffee Run.” | Photo by Lugao Kasberg

“It’s a risky job for anyone working in the health care system right now,” Francisco told the Asian Journal. “This is our way of showing appreciation and giving something that can help them take a break in the middle of the day.”

Kabisera has since continued the efforts through individuals’ donations to the cafe’s Venmo account: $20 for a tray (4 cups) of flavored lattes or $20 for two trays of regular coffee or iced teas. The cafe includes pan de sals and embutido or salmon burgers depending on the size of a hospital department.

Donors, who have included generous individuals from California and Florida as well, are also encouraged to write a short message to the front-liners, which are stuck onto the cups before delivery. As of Thursday, April 16, Kabisera has delivered to 11 hospitals and raised $4,660.

Jordan Andino of Flip Sigi hands off bags of meals to a New York hospital representative.

Filipino taqueria Flip Sigi in Greenwich Village started a “Feed Our Warriors” campaign and has sent 580 meals so far as of April 14. The restaurant is encouraging individuals to nominate a hospital in the local New York area that can benefit from the meals.

“We have spoken to several healthcare professionals who are regular guests of Flip Sigi and each of them have expressed how helpful this effort would be,” the owners wrote.

Raymond Ganados of Daily Dose Life, a meal delivery service based out of Bayonne, New Jersey, said in a Facebook post that $150,000 has been raised to prepare nutritious meals, such as salmon with vegetables and fruit plates.

Daily Dose Life prepares meals for health care workers

“Dropping off 180 meals to my local front-liners, Bayonne Med, Christ Hospital and Jersey City Med,” Ganados wrote on April 10. “820 meals went to various hospitals in Manhattan last night. My team is targeting 5,000 meals with the help of our neighboring kitchen next week making them front-liners happy and healthy!”

In Jersey City, New Jersey, Max’s Restaurant prepared to-go containers of pancit, lumpia and fried chicken for workers at Jersey City Medical Center.

Deirdre Levy, a special education teacher at a public school in Brooklyn, began collecting personal protective equipment and homemade masks through the city chapter of Mask our Heroes.

It has spun off to ‘Project Barkada’ along with other community members and organizations, such as NAFCON and Little Manila Queens to feed health care workers and homeless individuals, as well as collating donations of toiletries and clothing for women’s shelters.

Project Barkada delivers PPE | Photo by Lugao Kasberg

Over Easter weekend, Little Manila Queens and NAFCON partnered with Amazing Grace Restaurant in Queens to deliver meals to staff at Elmhurst Hospital, considered one of the hardest-hit medical centers in the city. The effort aims to raise $1,400 for four sets of meal deliveries. A $10-15 donation goes toward an individual meal, while $350 would found a meal for an entire unit of 20 staffers.

“The more we raise, the more we can contribute. 100% of the proceeds will go towards feeding front line health care workers,” NAFCON said in a statement. “No contribution is too large or too small.”

Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is an award-winning editor and communications strategist based in Los Angeles with experience in content, strategy and branding for media ecosystems, inclusive fintech startups, small businesses and direct-to-consumer products.

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