Volunteers Providing Free Meals To Health Care Workers While Supporting Local Restaurants

Three weeks ago, Bev Schechtman of Clayton saw a friend in New Jersey post about a national movement called FLAG – Front Line Appreciation Group.  Volunteers across the country raise money, buy meals from local restaurants and deliver them to health care workers who are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Bev immediately knew she had to start a FLAG Chapter in this area. “I was trying to figure out how to serve my community from home, and I loved this idea the second I saw it.”

She posted the idea on a Clayton Moms social media page and almost immediately heard back from Melissa Brown.  The woman hadn’t met before, but since March 31st they have been running a Front Line Appreciation Group in the Johnston County area.

“As of Wednesday we have raised $6,090 and put back $2,828.37 into local restaurants to buy meals,” Brown said. “We have delivered 371 meals to healthcare and EMS workers, donated 50 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to local firehouses and donated 800 snack items to the Sunshine Cart which is for healthcare workers at Johnston Health.”

“Johnston Health has partnered with us and have asked us to deliver 630 meals each week,” Schechtman said.  “I absolutely love how we are helping both local businesses and fueling health care workers.  People want to help, but they don’t know how.  This is a great way for people to be a part of this national movement. Clayton’s Chamber of Commerce is promoting us, and even Clayton’s mayor is on board with us.”

Schechtman and Brown delivered meals Tuesday to healthcare workers manning a drive through testing clinic at Garner Internal Medicine. Tonight they’ll be delivering more meals to health care workers working the overnight shift at Johnston Health.

It’s a win-win for struggling restaurants who were forced to close their dining areas and for healthcare workers are sacrificing so much.

“We contact local restaurants and they make a profit on the meals. It helps keep them busy and open.  We are not asking restaurants to donate meals. We want to help struggling local restaurants and also feed the local healthcare workers working endless hours and being away from their families,” Schechtman said.  “Donations makes this happen. It’s not us feeding the community, we are facilitating it.  So many have said ‘we want to help but we don’t know what to do’.  This is a place for them to give their money. The price is $6 to $7 per meal.  We’d like people to donate one or more meals.  If you’re unable to afford it then help spread the word for us.”

The Clayton FLAG organization is primarily providing meals to medical workers at Johnston Health in Clayton and Smithfield but will help as many healthcare workers in other locations as possible.  They just need to reach out to the group.

“Nurses with young kids have had to send their children away to relatives for the next one to two months. They’re sacrificing so much for us.  I’m not sure the public fully understands. These meals can put a smile on their faces and let them know they are fully appreciated,” Brown said.

Donations are needed to keep the meal deliveries going. And any local restaurant who would like to partner with Clayton FLAG is also encouraged to call.  Schechtman and Brown say it’s just as important to help local eateries who are struggling.

Find out more by visiting the FLAG of Clayton Facebook pageemail or make a donation on PayPal.

FLAG (Front Line Appreciation Group) is a group that’s dedicated to helping feed our front line health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic while also keeping our local restaurants in business. The group was started by Liz Bernich of Chatham, NJ – who teamed up with another mom, Gina McGuire of Madison, NJ to create the group that raised an amazing  $100,000+ for the cause in its first two weeks of existence.