Feed the Frontlines initiative helps keep Bronx health care workers fed

As restaurants are struggling to stay afloat and medical professionals are working long grueling hours trying to save COVID-19 patients, one eatery in Manhattan decided to give back.

Luca Di Pietro is the founder of Tarallucci e Vino restaurant group, which has five establishments in New York City. The coronavirus caused him to shut down four of his five locations and lay off 90 employees.

But shortly after the mayor’s announcement to shutter non-essential businesses, he knew there was a way to help doctors and nurses and stay open. He launched Feed the Frontlines NYC — an initiative to get contributors to buy meals from restaurants in the five boroughs to be delivered to first responders.

“Since that first delivery my father realized there was an incredible amount of demand,” said his daughter Isabella Di Pietro, a senior at Harvard University.

The goal of the initiative is to keep staff employed and pave the way for other restaurants to do the same as they work to feed more health care professionals.

People can purchase a meal for $25 on their website and she and her family then find restaurants to deliver food to a hospital. They have already contacted hospitals throughout the boroughs that are all on board with the program.

Feed the Frontlines is doing 2,000 meals a day and so far more than 20,000 have been delivered.

“We’re not making a profit right now,” Di Pietro said. “It’s about survival. We’ve been looking really hard to push out into the outer boroughs.”

One restaurant they are working with is Tosca Marquee, 4034 East Tremont, in Throggs Neck.

Manager Melissa Liebman said like Tarallucci e Vino, they laid off a lot of staff due to COVID-19. Leibman praised the initiative and said it’s a win-win for everyone.

“We were looking for other ways to get food to the hospital,” she explained. “Feed the Frontlines helps their restaurant because people are buying meals for the hospitals and it’s raising money to help keep staff employed.”

They are delivering food five days a week and have brought food to Montefiore Moses, the Jack D. Weiler Hospital, Wakefield and BronxCare. This past week alone they served 605 individually packaged meals to Bronx hospitals through Feed the Frontlines.

Liebman, 41, has been with Tosca for several years, but never experienced anything like this. Since doctors and nurses are risking their lives every day, she said the last thing they should have to worry about is food.

“It’s a great organization and I’d really like people to contribute and help,” Liebman said. “Buying a meal for one doctor doesn’t take a lot.”