Meals for Northeast Ohio’s caregivers providing a lifeline for restaurants, support for frontline workers

Updated: May. 4, 2020 at 2:37 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -A new arrangement between the Cleveland Clinic and several area restaurants is giving both local hospitality workers and those on the front line a real shot in the arm.

Grab and go “caregiving meals” are being doled out to Cleveland Clinic front line workers through the hospital system.

“The whole goal, was when they got done with their long day, they didn’t have to think about dinner," said Brent Zimmerman, owner of Saucy Brew Works.

Meal packs for four are being delivered all over the area to these workers, paid for by the Cleveland Clinic, and prepared by local restaurants and caterers.

"Caregiving Meals" purchased by the Cleveland Clinic for their frontline workers are providing a true life line for...

Posted by Jen Picciano on Monday, May 4, 2020

Luna Bakery and Cafe is preparing 7,000 meals each week, getting them to front line workers from Akron to Avon.

“This has been a lifeline for us to get our people back to work. Although it’s stressful to figure out a new business model, it’s going to help us pay our bills and keep people employed for the next month,” said owner, Bridget Thibeault.

Saucy Brew Works is making box lunches to feed anywhere from 400-2,000 people 4-5 days per week.

“I hired back my entire kitchen staff. It was huge. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to,” Zimmerman said.

The Driftwood Group, a restaurant group with a large catering arm is really scaling up their output.

Through the month of May they are contracted to prepare 100 thousand meals through this program.

“It’s outstanding to able to bring back 12 employees, and on top of that bring everyone back up to full pay,” said owner Chris Hodgson.

He says the domino effect of this is what’s encouraging.

"It’s huge. It trickles down. Our Sysco rep and all of our food reps haven’t gotten orders in a month, or month and a half and now they’re getting monstrous orders, and we’re placing orders for three weeks from now because people just can’t get us the food,” he said.

The Zack Bruell Restaurant Group is preparing 300 meal packs four times each week, averaging about 4,800 meals.

“Thankfully this is keeping the fires burning at the Zack Bruell Restaurant Group,” said Director of Marketing and Media, Denise Kramer.

“We are trying to provide something for these people who are really making a sacrifice. What we’re doing is minimal compared to how hard they’re working," said Bruell.

He says this program is providing much-needed cash flow that carry-out orders weren’t.

“It gives us an opportunity to put people to work. They want to work,” he said.

Right now the program is in its second week and is scheduled to go through at least the end of May.

“The program is funded through donations to our COVID-19 Response Fund, which is directed toward caregiver support programs and is part of Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 Community Response Campaign. We are inspired by the overwhelming generosity of our donors and are grateful for the positive impact of the program on our caregivers and our community,” said Lara Kalafatis, chair of the Philanthropy Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

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