On April 1, Anne Kelly and a team of Pittsburghers launched the city chapter of Frontline Foods. The organization was designed to lift up restaurants while feeding healthcare workers risking their lives.
The first delivery, just 11 days after the launch, delivered 165 meals to healthcare workers at Allegheny General Hospital and AHN West Penn Hospital. In less than a week, that number climbed to 412.
The program accepts donations through its website, then distributes the funds to restaurants and meals to hospitals. However, to manage its swift growth (though created a few days before Kelly and her team brought it to Pittsburgh, Frontline Foods now has 46 branches across the nation) the San Francisco-based organization has partnered with World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit run by chef José Andrés. This makes every donation 100% tax-deductible.
Kelly, who moved to Pittsburgh from San Francisco in February, started the city’s branch to fill her abundant free time after having projects and work postponed due to the outbreak. She reached out to friends inquiring how she could help and was asked to connect a California pizzeria donating slices to hospitals with an intensive care unit where two of her friends worked.
“I had this moment when I was like, ‘OK, I’m doing this for people who are 2,500 miles away from me. I wonder if anyone is doing this in Pittsburgh,’” says Kelly.
Things took off after a friend connected her with Frontline Foods. The Pittsburgh Frontline Foods team was officially onboarded at the start of April and raised $5,000 within eight days.
Though Kelly says they’ve had “a lot of terrific interest from terrific restaurants,” she and her team are “trying to scale that in a thoughtful way.”
They’re choosing restaurants for a reason, looking to supply healthcare workers with a meal that will “fuel them for an entire 12-hour shift.” Kelly is seeking out partnerships with eateries that have comprehensive safety practices and a track record of “doing great things.”
The Warren has been a part of both Frontline Foods deliveries to date — at the most recent donating 300 meals — because of their work providing free meals for service industry workers. Eventually, she’s hoping to source food from a group of around 15 restaurants. A smaller pool, she notes, will give those restaurants a chance to hire back employees, send more orders, and stay afloat.
To date, Frontline Foods Pittsburgh has donated over 412 meals to various hospitals and healthcare centers, the second delivery reaching UPMC East in Monroeville and various departments at Allegheny General. They hope to sustain this number every week. To donate, learn about volunteer opportunities, and more, visit frontlinefoods.org/pittsburgh.