Feed the Frontlines Georgia Brings Meals to Healthcare Workers During COVID Pandemic

Anita Qualls and Aditya Sood both have soft spots for healthcare workers.

Both are 2019 graduates of the University of Georgia and have future aspirations of becoming physicians— Qualls will soon be entering medical school and Sood is a student at the Emory School of Medicine.

During this uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers are facing challenges like never before. They are working long hours, they are putting themselves in harm’s way every day, and they are facing physical and mental exhaustion.

Sood and Qualls brainstormed to find a way to show their gratitude, and on April 2, Feed the Frontlines Georgia was formed.

The organization was formed on the premise of distributing meals made by local restaurants to healthcare professionals working to fight COVID-19. Not only would local Georgia healthcare workers get a hot meal, local restaurants facing uncertainty and loss of revenue would also get business.

“In this crisis, healthcare professionals are having to work terribly long shifts of 16 hours at a time, only to go home and not be able to spend time with families due to their increased exposure risk to COVID-19,” said Sood. “We all wanted a way to give back to our community during the pandemic. At the same time, we had been hearing stories of our family friends’ restaurants having difficulty in being able to support their staff with so few customers. That’s when we realized that we could boost morale in hospitals and help out our local restaurants that were also badly hit during this lockdown – we would buy meals from our neighbors and serve them to our frontline heroes.”

Once a donation (100% of the donations go to feed healthcare workers and all donations are tax deductible) is made through the official GoFundMe page, coordinators with the project identify the hospitals that are the hardest hit with COVID-19. Administrators at the hospitals identify units that could benefit from a good meal. Meals are then scheduled with local participating restaurants and are delivered to the hospital by the restaurant’s staff.

“We try to manage funds so that the hospitals that are hardest hit by COVID-19 get support. We pay special attention to those smaller hospitals that don’t have as many donations or media focus and try to give them love as well. This is doubly true for our efforts in rural areas,” said Sood.

Feed the Frontlines Georgia delivers meals to nine hospitals in the state with six more soon to be added to the list.

At the time of press, $25,000 has been donated and over 830 meals have been delivered with a total of 2,400 scheduled for April.

Of the 830 meals, 175 of those have been delivered to Piedmont Athens Regional.

Meals in Athens are currently provided by Athens Bagel Company, Donderos, and Chuck’s Fish. Five more local eateries will soon be added to the list as well.

To spread the word about the cause and encourage the public to donate, the organization decided to add a little friendly competition to the mix.

On Monday, April 13th, Feed the Frontlines Georgia announced they were beginning Med School Mania, a week-long competition between five medical schools in Georgia: Medical College of Georgia, Emory, Mercer, Morehouse, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Each day had a different theme to encourage donations to the cause: Match Day Monday (all donations were matched by sponsors), Tell a Friend Tuesday (spread the word about the campaign), Workout Wednesday (a challenge to get up and get active), Thankful Thursday (a day to simply thank healthcare workers), and Five Dollar Friday (asking for donations of just five dollars).

M3 students Debbie Shim and Andrew Block served as the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership liaisons for the Med School Mania.

“From the med student perspective, this pandemic has been frustrating because we want to help, but don’t yet have the training under our belt to contribute in a hands-on way, and therefore it has been important to find other ways to support from afar,” said Shim. “We hope that these small gestures will be regular reminders to our healthcare workers how appreciated they are and encouragement to the rest of us that we can show our support in many ways.”

By the time Med School Mania was over on Friday, April 7th, $11,000 was raised. This will go towards purchasing approximately 1,400 meals for healthcare workers.

MCG came out on top with the most donations totaling almost $4,300.

“We want to say thank you so much to everyone who donated to Feed the Frontlines,” said Block. “All of your donations went to those who are working incredibly hard making sure that our community (both in Athens and Augusta) feel loved and supported. It says a lot about the MCG family that, in these times of uncertainty, so many people donated what they could to make the fundraiser a success. When it comes to caring for Georgians and our healthcare workers, clearly you can count on MCG faculty, student and alumni to be there leading the way.”

And Sood said Feed the Frontlines Georgia is far from done.

“We will continue this effort as long as there are hospitals in Georgia that are being impacted by COVID-19,” said Sood.

Everyone at Feed the Frontlines Georgia hopes that these meals let healthcare workers know we are all behind them.

“Showing them support through providing a warm meal is the best way we can help,” said Sood. “We hope that the community continues to rally around frontliners and show that the small actions of many can make a large impact.”

To learn more about Feed the Frontlines Georgia, please visit their official website. If you wish to donate, visit the GoFundMe.

For more information about attending the Medical College of Georgia at the Medical Partnership campus

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