In a genius move that helps both overtaxed healthcare staff and restaurant workers struggling to survive during this time of mandated dine-in closures, a smattering of new local initiatives have sprung up to connect the dots between these two vital industries. The goal: Pay restaurants to do what they do best—feed people—and deliver ready-to-eat meals to the busy healthcare heroes battling coronavirus. Here’s how it’s being done on the Front Range and how you can help.

  1. Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) has a noble mission: deliver hot meals in times of crisis to anyone who needs them. Right now hospital workers are in need, so Frontline Foods Denver, a local branch of the national nonprofit, partnered with WCK to deliver them. One hundred percent of donations go to local restaurants like Ohana Island Kitchen, Brider, and Park Burger, which use the money to cook up delicious, nutritious meals. The Bindery kicked off the program by feeding 100 workers at Denver’s Swedish Medical Center. Even better: You can nominate restaurants or healthcare workers who could use the pick-me-up here.
  2. Recovering software engineer Matthew Sallee was inspired by a friend’s program in Alabama that provided aid to that state’s restaurants and medical staff, so he started a similar one in the Mile High City called DEN Cares. The new website lets donors purchase restaurant meals to be delivered to ICU units; the first order—$750 worth of Pizzeria Locale pies—went out to Denver Health last week. You can help in two ways: First, call the restaurant, mention DEN Cares, and tell them how much you want to donate ($10 feeds one person). Or you can donate online and all the money will go toward providing meals. Current participating restaurants include Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen, Denver Milk Market, and Pizzeria Locale, so the eating is pretty good.
  3. A group of Boulder community members have banded together to help in a big way. Feed the Frontlines Boulder launched last week to provide donated restaurant meals to Boulder Community Health hospital. The program has already raised $200,000, a month’s worth of meals for the hospital workers, and is hoping to raise another $200,000 to keep the program going through May and possibly expand to other area hospitals. Several top Boulder restaurants are on board, including Blackbelly, SALT, Next Door, and the Big Red F Restaurant Group.
  4. Breckenridge Brewery is working with Feeding the Frontline to support healthcare workers and inviting Coloradans to visit this site, where every $10 meal donation will be matched by Breck to send 500 meals to the staff at Littleton Adventist Hospital every month. In addition, Breck is donating $1 from every order to the Food Bank of the Rockies.

Bonus: In an effort to support restaurants and bars during the coronavirus shutdown, the software company Coast App created Takeout COVID, a site that features more than 300 spots offering takeout for pick up and delivery in the Denver metro area and beyond on a handy map. Check it out here.

Read about 5 other local movements here.

Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy is a freelance writer and ice cream fanatic living in Broomfield.