NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New York City restaurant workers who otherwise might have been out of work are cooking up a storm, feeding the hungry. And they’re getting paid like they were before COVID-19 hit. That’s today’s Difference Makers from Mike Sugerman.
The restaurant Leche y Miel, where you can get some of the best smoked eggplant stew in the Bronx, survived the dark days of the COVID era by giving away meals.
“It’s nice to have the ability to help people out in these times that are so difficult, and still be able to stay open, because it’s tough right now to stay afloat,” said co-owner Altagrassia Pena.
Pena says they weren’t doing it for free.
They are being paid by Feed the Frontlines NYC.
“Feed the Frontlines NYC started as an initiative to feed essential workers, mainly hospital workers battling the pandemic in New York City hospitals," said Isabella de Pietro, whose family runs the Tarallucci E Vino restaurants in Manhattan.
They started taking donations to cook meals to give out and expanded to other restaurants, like Leche y Miel.
They’ve raised almost $2 million keeping more than 100 restaurant workers employed who otherwise could have been laid off.
“It’s a win-win. We are New Yorkers feeding New Yorkers and helping put New Yorkers back to work," said di Pietro, who was two months away from graduating Harvard, but dropped out to help in the family effort.
Brian Moriarty of Volunteers of America, overseeing the distribution at this Bronx community home, couldn’t be more grateful.
“These meals have really provided a really anxiety-reducing moment for the clients, but also for the essential workers that we have at all VOA programs," said Moriarty.
They've provided more than 125,000 meals so far and as long as donations keep coming, there are no plans to stop.