Cat Amaro walks around a Chicago neighborhood on a sunny, early Spring day. Typically, the restaurants and bars would be bustling with clientele, but today, everything is quiet.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cat and millions of her fellow hospitality workers have been furloughed or laid off.
But Cat isn’t one to sit around and let herself grow bored waiting for what’s next. She saw an opportunity to stay in touch with her staff and find another mission to work toward: instilling hospitality. “It’s what we do every day, and now it’s needed more than ever,” she said.
Cat saw the healthcare workers and began thinking about what she could do for those workers on the front lines of the crisis. This desire to help led to the creation of Feeding the Frontline Chicago (FTF). FTF is a collective of restaurant professionals to support two of Chicago’s largest and most in-need service industries: hospitality and healthcare.
FTF raises funds to create meals for healthcare workers around Chicago. The organization then works with local restaurants to help support their operations and put money in their workers’ pockets.
These restaurants are well equipped to handle delivery and carryout, which streamlines the process. It’s a collaborative effort to follow all safety guidelines, and meals are delivered per the healthcare facility’s instructions.
FTF takes many factors into account when deciding the meals to prepare:
- The cuisine of the restaurant they’re working with
- The ingredients they have available
- Making sure the meals are hearty for healthcare workers with long shifts ― a protein, grain and vegetable
- What meals will be easy to store
- If the meal can be reheated, if a worker is not able to eat until later
- If the meal can be eaten on the go if they don’t have time to sit down for a break
They also make sure the meals accommodate allergies, if anyone in the unit has dietary requirements.
As long as there is a need and they have the funding to support it, FTF will keep up their efforts. The healthcare workers they’ve served so far have been very grateful for their help.
According to Cat, healthcare workers don’t always know the support they have. Something as simple as sending a meal can have a lasting, positive impact.
“The ability to extend hospitality in the darkest times makes all the difference in the world.”
Learn more about FTF Chicago and see how you can help by visiting www.ftfchicago.com.