Friday was a busy day for the team at Toast. Owner Amy Russo Harrigan and her employees were up since 5 a.m. prepping meals for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Depending on the day, we deliver anywhere from 10 breakfast sandwiches, to 50 lunches, and anywhere in between to help predominantly the ICU and ER departments,” she said.
Harrigan and her team are being extra careful. Masks and gloves must be worn in the kitchen at all times.
“What we try to do is get it out as hot and as fresh as we can for lunch time, for breakfast time and we are even doing dinners as well. Usually it’s one or two of us pack it. We don’t like a lot of hands touching, because it’s just that much more room for error,” she said.
The meals aren’t just fresh and hot, but they’re also healthy.
“We are really paying attention to that as well. We don’t want to give them fried food, fried food, fried food because they have to continue doing the job that they’re doing 12, 13 14 hours a day and we want make sure that we’re giving them proper nutrition at that same time,” Harrigan said.
Toast is one of 12 restaurants that have teamed up with the nonprofit Women For Progress to help donate some 300 meals in over a week.
“It was a nice connection for us because we can’t do it all either. The restaurants can’t organize, make all the phone calls. We are making the food and we are making the delivery. We need the donations to come in,” she said.
Carla Pappalardo of Women for Progress says the organization sets up the exchange between local restaurants and hospitals in need.
“Everybody wants to do something and right now we’re all being told to stay home so nobody knows what to do with themselves. So really this is what you can do. We were very anxious to help St. Joe’s, which is situated in Paterson, and we felt they made not be in a place where they’re served as well as other hospitals that are served in more affluent areas. And now has time has gone just in the short eight days, they have central man posts, there’s people in charge when you call. Not only are we providing nourishment and thanking the people doing the hard work at the front line, but we’re helping restauranteurs, small businesses that have helped us,” Pappalardo said.
Harrigan said how the hospitals want food delivered changes hourly.
“It used to be that we would send trays and that’s what they wanted. They no longer want their own staff congregating, so now everything has to be individually packaged and wrapped and labeled,” she said.
“You can’t but help but be emotional and you can’t help but feel proud and happy, a way of showing these people how much we care,” Pappalardo said.