Nonprofit hires laid-off restaurant workers to deliver to Bronx hospitals

Food that was delivered through Off Their Plate 
Photo courtesy of Off Their Plate 

As health care workers risk their lives on the front line, one nonprofit is delivering food to first responders and keeping restaurant workers employed while doing so.

Off Their Plate, a national grassroots movement to address the economic and health crises of the coronavirus pandemic, launched in New York six weeks ago, partnering local restaurants with hospitals in their neighborhoods to fuel the fight against COVID-19.

Unlike most places that are feeding medical professionals, they are only pairing up with eateries that agree to give half of the profits to their employees. For every $100 donated, 10 meals go to the front line and restore three shift hours to the community. For every $5,000 raised, they serve 500 meals and support 150 job hours back online.

Leah Wong, a member of the NYC chapter, said so far only Beatstro at 135 Alexander Ave., is on board in the Bronx, but they are actively looking for more places.

“I’m really proud of all of our chefs,” Wong said. “Restaurants that we work with treat their employees like family.”

Food that was delivered through Off Their Plate. Photo courtesy of Off Their Plate

Since its first delivery on April 1, it has delivered thousands of meals in the Bronx to Montefiore, NYC Health + Hospitals Jacobi and Northwell Jewish. It has partnered with eight restaurants throughout the city and restored nearly $100,000 in restaurant workers wages. At the national level, Off Their Plate has raised nearly $3 million.

The organization has delivered roughly 10,000 meals in New York and aims to donate another 10,000 meals next week to the hardest hit city hospitals.

“Our work at Off Their Plate is about the human impact of the pandemic,” said founder Natalie Guo. “We exist to support those on the dual front lines of this unprecedented crisis – our health care workers healing the sick, and our restaurant workers fueling the fight.”

It works with restaurant and hospital partners on a weekly schedule and matches them up based on requested meal times, location and restaurant capacity. The number of meals they deliver depends on the hospitals’ need, which they actively track. Their goal is to provide health care workers a rotating nutritious panel of meals day-to-day, week-to-week and restaurants with consistent delivery volume and income continuity.

“We’ve been working with restaurant partners who have faced unprecedented impact to their businesses,” said Katherine Degnen, New York City restaurant lead. “Many of these owners were paying their employees out of their own pockets, donating meals to people in their community who have lost jobs, and much more. Off Their Plate hopes to alleviate some of the damage restaurants and their employees are experiencing and amplify their efforts by providing 100 percent of our funds to them.”

Restaurants interested in partnering with Off Their Plate can sign up here. Individuals and organizations interested in supporting Off Their Plate with a financial contribution can do so here. Any other requests or ideas, email leah@offtheirplate.org

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