Restaurant industry workers cook, donate meals to health care workers’ families

BOSTON — The Boston restaurant industry is coming together to help provide comfort food during an uncomfortable time. Front Line Family Meals Boston is a new group that will be cooking meals and donating them to hospital workers, so they can bring them home to feed their families.

According to Beth Schunke, the group’s founder, the idea is to allow medical staff to go home and relax after long shifts, without having to worry about cooking dinner.

“I do have a couple of friends who are nurses, and they’ve heard chatter about coming home and kids eating cereal and there being burnt chicken on the table,” she told Boston 25 News over Zoom on Sunday. “It’s just very frustrating, so I thought it would be the best way for me to help them relax after being in such a stressful environment.”

Schunke served as a director of operations for a restaurant group in Boston. She, along with many other volunteers, are currently unemployed due to stiff restrictions on the restaurant industry due to COVID-19, but wanted to put their culinary skills to good use.

“Being a hospitality professional, it’s something that’s kind of in my blood to want to take care of people and cook for people. My partner is a physician at the BI [Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center] so I’ve been listening to him on phone calls, talking about how long these nurses have been working – 80-to-100-hour weeks,” she said.

“Being a mother as well, I couldn’t imagine working that long and then having to go home and cook a meal for my family, so I thought instead of feeding them at the hospital, we could feed them and their families when they come home so they have time to relax and enjoy the time they have together.”

During the past three days, Schunke said the group has raised more than $9,000 for groceries, and, by the end of the week, they plan to make and deliver roughly 75 meals.

Meals will be delivered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during shift change at local hospitals. Their first delivery is scheduled for Monday, April 27 between 7 and 8 p.m. at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“It’s so nice to see the notes that people are writing and how thankful they are for this. So it’s been very rewarding and also giving all something to do when we’re not in our restaurants,” she said. “I hope that once we get through this initial push, that maybe this is the footprint for other cities to be able to follow suit, or other restaurant industry workers who are out, to try and help the people that are working so hard for us at the moment.”

If you would like to donate, volunteer, or are a medical professional that would like to request a home-cooked meal, you can visit the Front Line Family Meals Boston website by clicking here.