Kaiser Permanente Medical Staff Posing with Community Funded Meals from The Herbfarm

On Saturday, March 14th, my friend Carl tweeted that he’d like to raise donations to hire unemployed restaurant workers to provide meals for health care workers:

It was noble but I dismissed the idea. In the midst of the covidapocalypse it would be too difficult to re-organize restaurants, workers and then get hospitals to accept outside food. They wouldn’t let it in the door.

But apparently, the next day Carl had raised $750 and delivered 35 meals to two hospitals:

Still skeptical but wanting to contribute, I replied, “Where do we donate?”

The next day at 5:22 pm, Carl calls me — not wanting to collect my donation but he asked if I could help. I took a long pause… I have a lot on my plate…

But after my brain surgery in 2015, I spent twelve days in a Swedish ICU — I learned to deeply appreciate nurses and doctors and I care deeply about the medical professionals risking their lives to fight coronavirus in Seattle.

I told Carl I’d try to help.

The next day we launched a GoFundMe: Meal Delivery for Puget Sound Hospital Staff.

At the time we didn’t have enough funding to cover the 150 meals The Herbfarm prepared that day. But within a few hours, we’d raised the necessary $4,000.

Just 57 hours later, Seattle and the greater community have contributed $35,785. The city is largely staying home and deeply regards the risk and the challenge the medical community is facing. 348 people have donated to show their appreciation!

These 348 people contributed enough for 1,431 meals … and counting. We’ve increased our fundraising goal from $25,000 to $50,000 … from one week of 1,000 meals to two weeks of 1,000 meals.

We’ve delivered 565 meals since Sunday!

The Herbfarm’s Commitment

The Herbfarm

I’ve had a chance to get to know Carrie Van Dyck and Ron Zimmerman co-proprietors of The Herbfarm and their Chef Chris Weber. They’re a AAA 5 Diamond rated restaurant that would have to shut down because of COVID19.

Instead they’ve gracefully shifted their operation to producing boxed multicourse meals for doctors, nurses and medical support staff.

Herbfarm Albacore Tuna Rustic Bread Nettle Soup Dinner, Thursday 19 March 2020

I’m so impressed at the efficiency, grace and excellence that Chef Chris and The Herbfarm kitchen team have turned out 150 to 200 meals a day, on time.

Yes, this effort is keeping The Herbfarm operating. The funding raised has allowed the restaurant to bring back two people already, Sous Chef Jack Gingrich and Dishwasher and Food Prep cook Candido Hernandez.

Dishwasher and Food Prep cook Candido Hernandez

This weekend, The Herbfarm will bring back their entire kitchen team to help with production of up to 450 meals.

The funding is also keeping up demand for The Herbfarm’s small holder farmers and artisan producers — such as SnoValley mushroom foragers on Friday’s menu.

SnoValley Foragers

I’ve been vegan for almost two years and I admit putting intense effort into funding meals which include animals is painful for me. Here’s shepherd Jeff Rogers’ lamb some of which is on Sunday’s menu:

Jeff Rogers, Lamb Farmer

I am conflicted but for this hopefully brief Seattle COVID19 era, I want the doctors, nurses and staffers risking their lives to care for victims to take off their protective gear at the end of a long, exhausting, dangerous and dehydrating shift to have a warm hot nutritious meal which they are accustomed to.

The Herbfarm is also providing vegetarian meals — even some by request.

Tonight’s Deliveries

On March 19th, volunteers picked up meals at The Herbfarm and delivered 80 meals to Kaiser Permanente pictured at the top of the story. That photo captures what this effort is all about.

We delivered 80 meals to Virginia Mason:

Virginia Mason Medical Staff Receiving 80 Meals From Seattle Donors

And we delivered 40 meals to the University of Washington for the first time:

University of Washington Medical Staff Set Out 40 Meals for Medical Personnel

It’s just incredible what The Herbfarm and our volunteer team has accomplished. I’m so proud to play a little part in this.

Please visit our GoFundMe and consider contributing. At the very least, please tell five friends about it!

The last two days in Washington State, new COVID-19 cases have spiked 175 and 189:

New Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Washington State by Day

Seattle hospitals are already under incredible stress and they may be poised to be completely overwhelmed.

Help us feed and nourish them. Help us show the community’s gratitude for them.

The Herbfarm can scale its capacity to 2000 to possibly 4000 meals per week. As long as we can raise funding to power the operation our team of volunteers intends to keep this going — until COVID-19 is a past threat.

Thank you for supporting our effort!

Postscript

For Carl, he has a broad vision that what we’ve done here can be a model for other restaurants and cities to build their own meal train for hospital workers. The formula is one or more restaurants, a handful of recently laid off restaurant workers and a community that hold its healthcare providers close to their heart … and one or two volunteers.

Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest. Check out Portland Wild, a visual map-driven guide to Portland's public art, its Heritage Trees and its Little Free Libraries.

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