Less than two weeks ago, Eric Vanags was sitting at home thinking about how local restaurants were going to take a hit and about how frontline healthcare workers were going to be facing some of the toughest weeks ahead when he had an idea to help them both. Just twelve days later, he has raised almost $10,000 and fed 615 frontline healthcare workers from nine local restaurants.
Vanags works in medical sales by day and coaches lacrosse at Deep Run High School each spring, while raising three kids, two of whom play for the Richmond Strikers. His wife is involved with the local EAT Restaurant Partners organization and knew firsthand how the pandemic was going to impact local restaurants. With his day job on hold and no lacrosse this spring, he wanted to find a way to give back to the community and support those who were reeling this pandemic both financially and with their personal sacrifices. That’s where Frontline Meals came to fruition.
It began with a simple Facebook post on a neighborhood page to chip in some money to take to the local hospital. By the end of the day, the response was overwhelming, and he had raised $2100. On that first day, they were able to supply multiple meals for workers at St. Mary’s Hospital from two local restaurants. On March 30th, he started a Facebook page called Frontline Meals to raise money to purchase meals from small local restaurants and supply meals to local healthcare works who are on the frontlines of this pandemic.
“We started Frontline Meals to give ourselves and our neighbors a way to help the RVA community during these uncertain times. Our mission is to connect the brave healthcare workers on the frontline with local restaurants facing lower demand. We partner with local restaurants to prepare fresh meals and deliver them to local hospitals, healthcare providers, and other frontline workers,” the Frontline Meals Facebook page says about the mission. “By contributing to our cause, you will directly fuel both; healthcare heroes and the small businesses that make RVA such a great place to live.”
Thus far, they have received nearly $10,000 in donations and supported nine local restaurants, with four more lined up for next week. While they have currently provided meals at all local hospitals, they have recently gotten permission to deliver to Richmond Ambulance Authority with plans to do the same for Henrico Fire and EMS. Vanags has been delighted to deliver each one of these meals personally to connect with the healthcare workers and share the support from the community and local restaurants.
“I think it means more coming from a local restaurant,” Vanags said, “It really hits home that the community cares, because these are places they probably visited prior to this lockdown. We want to give these frontline workers one less thing to worry about and show support to those local restaurants close to the hospitals.”
If you are interested in following Frontline Meals mission or contributing, you can visit the Frontline Meals Facebook page. All donations will allow Frontline Meals to purchase meals from local restaurants in Richmond, and deliver them to the frontline workers at various hospitals and first responders in the greater Richmond area.