Austin nonprofit chapter raises $10K in 10 days to feed healthcare workers

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A local chapter of a national nonprofit is supporting both frontline healthcare workers and restaurants losing business due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Glenn Fiedler started a Frontline Foods chapter in central Texas with his co-lead 10 days ago; since then, they’ve already raised more than $10,000 to buy meals from local restaurants to donate to nurses and doctors caring for people affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“We’ve already made quite a few healthcare workers very happy with meals that we’ve delivered,” Fiedler said. “We had one healthcare worker reach out to us and say it’s the most appreciated she’s felt in 15 years of working at a hospital.”

Tuesday kicks off the chapter’s #512challenge, an effort to raise $60,000 over the next 12 days to buy 5,000 meals for healthcare workers.

How it works

The Austin group is one of 17 chapters in cities across the country, bringing together hundreds of volunteers and donors to support both healthcare workers and struggling restaurants.

Donors select their city when determining how much to give, then Fiedler and his co-lead work out how to distribute the money between partnering restaurants and hospitals so everyone gets a share of the funds and food.

Right now the Austin chapter is partnering with five restaurants, though it’s in talks with more than 30. Three hospitals are participating so far.

“A lot of people feel so helpless at this time and want to find a way to help,” said Julie Thompson, an early donor to what was then her friend’s GoFundMe page to support the efforts.

Now the drive is aligned with a national nonprofit so all donations go to supporting the cause.

“I live in DC now, but I always considered Austin home,” Thompson explained. “It just broke my heart to think about such a vital food industry suffering.”

Future plans

Fiedler wants to continue growing the nonprofit in central Texas. His goal is to reach out to more local hospitals to determine which already have food donation programs in place for their employees, then recruit the ones who don’t to join Frontline Foods.

He hopes the community continues to want to help. “In this crisis that we’re facing, it’s easy to feel kind of helpless when you’re quarantining at home and doing your part to social distance,” he said.

Thompson hopes more people decide to support the cause, too.

“I just think it’s important when we’re all physically separated to emotionally provide support,” she said, “especially to the people who are on the front lines working so hard for all of us.”

ascension seton - heroes work here
A sign outside Ascension Seton’s Shoal Creek facility in central Austin proclaims, “Heroes Work Here.” (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

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