Local Restaurants Work Hard to Support Medical Teams: The Austin food scene steps up by doing what it does best – Food
Matt and Tonya Silk from ATX Hospital Meals (Photo by Jana Birchum)
It’s no secret that the restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard during the pandemic. By ordering accommodation, dining rooms and bars were temporarily closed, which resulted in countless employees being taken on leave. Despite the struggle, the Austin food scene has stepped up to show its support for the frontline medical professionals by doing what they do best: supplying their community with great meals.
ATX Hospital Meals is a new organization designed to support both the local restaurant industry and healthcare workers. It was founded by local entrepreneur Matt Silk and his wife Tonya. To date, they have raised more than $ 70,000 “with every penny that goes to local restaurants and delivered more than 2,500 meals to two HealthCare facilities in St. David and six ATCEMS first responder command stations.”
Silk told The Chronicle, “My wife and I have a buy-and-hold residential real estate portfolio in Austin and I invest in early-stage technology companies. After working with each of my companies on plans to get through the business.” Over the next few quarters, we found that we had the time and energy to burn. When I read the Medium article I was talking about [FrontlineFoods.org]It was clear that we had to start one here. ATX Hospital Meals was born the next morning as a four-page Squarespace site and two Google forms. We thought we’d raise $ 5-10,000 and deliver a few meals. We didn’t know how much momentum there would be in this mission. “
“We thought we’d raise $ 5-10,000 and deliver a few meals. We didn’t know how much momentum there would be in this mission. ” – Matt Silk, meals at the ATX hospital
Restaurant partners include Kerbey Lane Cafe, Huckleberry Hospitality, Tacodeli, Old Thousand, 101 by Teahaus (which also offers health workers who show their badges, free tea or Boba), Biderman’s Deli, Cafe No Sé, and Sway. Chi’lantro created reheatable microwaveable bowls that hospital staff can purchase via email. Silk added, “The number of volunteers, coordination with other local and national programs, and support from people around the world have been inspiring. Our mission is simple: raise money – buy meals at local restaurants – deliver to healthcare workers. “
Incidentally, Frontline Foods is a donation-based platform (currently available in nine urban areas including Austin) that coordinates meal donations from community members to provide medical meals for restaurant workers. Frontline Foods recently partnered with the NGO World Central Kitchen and celebrity chef José Andrés who will be supporting 501 (c) (3) and helping veterinarian restaurant partners. On site, they partner with restaurants like Sala and Betty, Home Slice Pizza (they also have a “Pie for Pie” program that donates a cake to community partners like Austin EMS during their designated donation slots) and Taco Flats.
ATX Hospital Meals recently partnered with the Sino-US network in Austin to “give both organizations the opportunity to expand and expand their respective charity programs and allow ATX Hospital Meals to accept tax-exempt donations and company games.”
Silk said: “ACAN began supporting COVID-19 relief efforts on March 21, targeting disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in the Austin metropolitan area, including the homeless, youth in transition, children in nursing homes and high school students, Losing Access to School Meals In the past three weeks, ACAN has delivered more than 2,100 homemade meals donated by restaurants and partners to these vulnerable populations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. ACAN also distributed more than 200 restaurant meals Hospitals, first responders and pharmacists in the same period. “
After the first few weeks of the ATX Hospital Meals, Silk found “some donors were looking for the same tax exemption as they would get with a typical 501 (c) (3) donation” and worked to find a solution. “Partnering with ACAN was a breeze as structuring this partnership allowed us to add tax-exempt donations and corporate games overnight. We are still running the program the same way and 100% of all donations go towards buying meals for health Nurses as before. “
He added: “Across the country it has been reported that patronage for Chinese restaurants has decreased significantly. While our partnership is not limited to Asian restaurants, we have a handful in the program. This pandemic does not, however, include race, creed, color, Age or sexual orientation, and our mission to support Austin restaurants is the same. We hope to help as many local Austin restaurants as possible. “
Matt Silk delivers meals to St. David’s HealthCare (Photo by Jana Birchum)
ATX Hospital Meals “is still running 1,000 miles per hour and is scaling the program as quickly as possible to deliver more meals and have more restaurants on board,” said Silk. To add to the scope, they announced a corporate fundraising program alongside Flintco’s $ 15,000 matching sponsorship. “Help shed light on this mission to not only help our health care workers who are waging war on our behalf, but the thousands of restaurants that may not survive the effects of this pandemic.”
At press time, ATX Hospital Meals has delivered nearly 2,600 meals from nearly 30 different local restaurants since March 27, and raised nearly $ 70,000 from 191 donors.
Silk and its organization are certainly not the only ones jumping into the fray. Eddie Bernal, who owns both Santa Rita Cantina and 34th Street Cafe, was invited to participate in a program to supply the Seton Media Center. Seton (like the others) has a strict grocery delivery policy, and Santa Rita has been invited to offer fajitas and tacos. They make (sometimes more) drops daily, and guests can purchase a meal for a Seton employee if they place their own take-away order. The cafe also feeds medical staff, saying, “100% is donated by its clientele, about $ 1,000 a week. Crazy, wonderful!”
Eddie Bernal of Santa Rita Cantina and 34th Street Cafe prepares food for Seton Medical Center (Photo by Jana Birchum)
Many other Austin restaurants have started their own missions to service the local medical staff. Reunión 19 offers 10% discount and free delivery for group orders for all first responders. Local olive oil wizards Con ‘Olio donated 100 bottles of oil and vinegar, paired with Tony C’s garlic knots, to be delivered to the staff on the evening shift at Baylor Scott & White Hospital. One of our favorite delicatessen stores around the country, Otherside Deli, announced it was having breakfast on Wednesday to deliver the $ 10 meals donated to Seton Medical by customers. An Instagram post states that they have enough donations to keep working four more weeks but want to extend the service for as long as possible. The Buy a Healthcare Worker a Meal program uses donations made through the Otherside website to give a gift card to various areas of the hospital so that staff can either have a free breakfast or lunch, or stock their pantry at home can.
Many other Austin restaurants have started their own missions to service the local medical staff.
In addition, JHL Company, an Austin-based events and branding company, announced the launch of Feed the Fight ATX, a charity founded to support local restaurants and frontline health workers affected by the ongoing COVID -19 pandemic across central Texas. “In a natural disaster, people naturally know they need to donate to the Red Cross, but in this disaster it was confusing where and how to help. Feed the Fight ATX is easy – donations save businesses and support those in charge work for us, “he said to Jennifer Stevens, CEO of JHL.
First launched by Elena Tompkins in March in Washington, DC, Feed the Fight has now provided more than 10,000 meals for doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and rescue workers. Now it is common in many other cities. The charity is to be funded by the community by using the money raised to buy meals from local restaurants to be delivered to hospitals and first responders in the area. At the same time, health care workers and local restaurants are also supported.
Feed the Fight ATX has currently raised enough for more than 500 meals, including 200 Tacodeli tacos that have been delivered to Ascension Seton Medical Center. Other participating restaurants include Chuy’s, The League, Tony C’s, and Snarf Sandwiches.
Some – but certainly not all – of the many other wonderful offerings from our beloved Austin dining community include:
• The restaurant group behind Emmer & Rye, Hestia and Henbit donated 200 meals a night to hospitals in Ascension Seton for more than a week.
• Mandola’s Italian cuisine has turned guest donations into meals for health care workers at St. David’s Health Center.
• Nixta Taqueria, which had also announced a partnership with Salt & Time, also donated meals to local hospitals.
• For every packed lunch that is bought, Scholz Garten gives the emergency staff a packed lunch.
• The Baton Creole Cajun Food Truck provides a plate of groceries for healthcare (or hospitality) workers for a donation of US $ 10.
• The restaurant group Brand and Mortar Group launched a one-on-one “One Tough Cookie Campaign” with biscuits from pastry chef Natalie Gazaui.
• Figure 8 Coffee seller delivers donated cups and carafes to hospital staff.
• Julie Myrtille Bakery sends packaged meals to health care workers weekly.
• Juniper is offering health professionals 25% off takeaway orders with the code “FIRSTAID”.
• Mozart’s Coffee offers free meals every day for first aiders.
• Pizzeria Grata offers healthcare workers 50% discount on pizzas.
• Sugar Mama’s has a CupCares program that allows desserts to be sent to all types of first responders.
• Terry Black’s BBQ offers 30% off medical professionals and barrels and boxes of cold brew donated by Tiny House Coffee.
• Wheatsville Co-op has partnered with Hospice Austin to provide meals for staff.
Please check all participants’ websites and social media for updated information on meals and partnerships.