Amid COVID-19, Delivering Meals With a Side of Hope
With over 47,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of March 31, New York City is at the heart of the nationwide coronavirus crisis.
Doctors, nurses, and a slew of other healthcare responders are working around the clock to help contain a pandemic, risking everything to stay on the frontlines. And those who can stay inside are doing just that, a small but significant step that may give the beleaguered city a fighting chance.
Amid these dire straits, one catering company is stepping up to keep New Yorkers -- especially those who are homeless or food insecure -- fed. And they’re relying on ebikes to help make it possible.
Four years ago, Green Top Farms set out to ensure that New York City had steady access to sustainably sourced food.
The catering service, headed up by their star chef, Chopped champion Anup Joshi, took this on by providing NYC office workers with lunches culled from small family farms, serving up meals that were both nourishing and delicious.
When offices started to shutter a few weeks ago, they realized there was an opening to lend their neighbors a hand.
“New York’s food pantries and shelters usually rely on overflow from restaurants and events,” Al Raddock, a business development partner at Green Top Farms, told us. “As everything closed down, those sources dried up.”
“Last week we got 500 meals to a pantry in Harlem. We ramped that up to 1,600 meals this week. Yesterday, we produced 350 meals in an hour, which we're really proud of,” he said.
Meeting those numbers is no easy task, especially when you factor in the steps that the food industry has adopted to safeguard against coronavirus.
“A lot of these pantries don’t have a cafeteria where people sit down and get a hot meal anymore, so the RadBurro’s helping us bring the food to directly to them with contactless delivery,” Raddock said. “We’re being careful in the kitchen. There’s tape on the floors for where you can walk, nobody can eat together anymore, everybody is six feet apart, everybody has masks on, everybody is sanitizing their station constantly.”
To cover costs and ensure their workers remain on payroll, Green Top Farms has turned to the office workers they once served, almost all of whom are now telecommuting.
“We started delivering Work From Home packages,” Raddock explained. “We tried to figure out what your family would bring you if you were sick or in a time of need. It was intended to stock your fridge through the week with things that are really good and nutritionally dense.”
“Everything in it is super local, super farm to table. All the broths are made from stock, there are simple snacks to get you through the day, fresh produce, eggs from upstate New York, soups that can be frozen. It’s a loose way to get you breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the workweek.”
And according to Raddock, the RadBurro-delivery is a significant part of the package’s appeal.
Raddock credited their Rad fleet for not only making it easier to get the meals across town (something that plenty of other couriers have found useful, especially now that the city has relaxed restrictions on using ebikes for delivery), but for doing it sustainably, which is something that resonates with their customer base.
“We don’t sit in traffic since we use the bike lanes. We can get to a lot of people more quickly and efficiently," he said.
And while the virus has created unexpected challenges for everyone, agile and adaptable businesses like Green Top Farms have found creative ways to continue serving their customers and residents in need.
“There are people at these food shelters that are struggling and don’t have a home, and it's sad that these problems exist in the first place, even without the threat of a pandemic,” Raddock said. “The silver lining is the amazing conversations we've been having and the support we've been getting. I’m happy there’s still an opportunity to feed folks who might otherwise go hungry.”