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'Feed the Frontlines' raises $500,000 to help restaurants and frontline workers in Boulder

The fund pays for restaurants to keep employees working. The meals they prepare then feed frontline workers at hospitals and throughout the city.

BOULDER, Colo. — One donation can help two industries in Boulder.

Feed the Frontlines is raising money for struggling restaurants and hungry frontline workers.

“We are getting donations from the community, [those] are going directly toward meals for local restaurants which are obviously struggling during these times,” explained Vikas Reddy, a local entrepreneur in Boulder who, along with his friend, Kyle Judah, came up with the idea locally and helped organize it. 

They were inspired by a similar effort in San Francisco.

The meals, purchased with donation money and prepared by local restaurants, are then delivered to the busy COVID-19 frontline workers.

“People that are healthcare workers, EMS, cleaning staff – everyone involved as part of this fight,” Reddy explained.

Restaurants benefit from the business, and Reddy said participating restaurants agree to use that assistance to support workers and keep them on the payroll.

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Frontline workers, working long and challenging shifts, benefit from a prepared meal.

“And so this is sort of a way we thought of to help both those groups,” he said. “And the community has really responded to that, really come out in a big way.”

Reddy serves on the Board of Trustees for the Boulder Community Heath Foundation, which is helping collect donations. Thanks to a few large initial donations, followed by several community members and businesses that followed, the fund has passed $500,000 so far.

Reddy says Feed the Frontlines Boulder has partnered with about two dozen restaurants, including Shine Restaurant and Potion Bar in Boulder.

“We’ve been feeding the doctors and nurses from the local hospital, and today we got to deliver to the Boulder Police,” said Jill Emich, who owns the restaurant with her sisters.

Credit: Austin Braun / Feed the Frontlines Boulder
Donations for Feed the Frontlines Boulder

On Friday, they dropped off deliveries for police officers and healthcare workers. Feed the Frontlines Boulder is now serving some first responders, too.

“It feels like a beautiful offering for us to be able to do it,” Emich said. “Support your local business as much as we can right now. Do the takeaway and delivery for local restaurants… If we can keep money circulating through our local economy, it’s going to make a huge difference when the town opens back up.”

Dr. Ben Keidan, Chief Medical Officer for Boulder Community Health, said the hospital has been receiving daily meals for workers through this program for about two weeks.

“Our frontline staff has been working tirelessly, night and day, under significant stress,” he said. “And so every little thing helps. The staff are so appreciative of all the community support. A warm meal and the feeling of appreciation is really going a long way.”

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Boulder Police Commander, Kerry Yamaguchi, said police appreciated the meals, too.

“Like all public safety right now, we can’t work from home. We’re coming out [to work] with the added environment of this pandemic, it makes the job a little more challenging, a little more stressful for our employees,” he said. “So something like this is very welcome. Not only is it nourishing for food, but it also lifts spirits. So we really appreciate it.”

Reddy said Feed the Frontlines Boulder effort is continuing to accept donations through the Boulder Community Health Foundation Fund, and is also accepting more restaurants into the program.

He challenged everyone to consider how they can help during the pandemic.

“This is one of many [ways to help financially]. Think about what are some other things you can do to help,” he said. “There’s tons of awesome stuff happening, especially in Colorado. I really appreciate the spirit of the state, and I would love to see more awesome things happening to help in these times.”

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