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When Baltimore resident Tammy Tran was looking for a way to help during the pandemic, she was inspired by her friend’s latest endeavor. That friend, a nurse in San Francisco, had begun volunteering for a national organization called Frontline Foods. This organization addressed the inability of frontline caregivers to get a bite to eat as they worked long hours at area hospitals. Deliveries of prepared food would become a prime method for communities to support healthcare workers across the nation. “It was hard to see my colleagues I work side-by-side with struggling everyday, and we all wanted to help our friends and co-workers,” says Tran who is a visiting scientist at Johns Hopkins University and postdoctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
In April of 2020, Tran assembled a team of more than 20 friends as volunteers, and created the Baltimore chapter of Frontline Foods. The group immediately began to help as many healthcare workers as they could. Volunteer Varun Mishra, a local undergraduate student, reached out to the MedStar Health system to coordinate their services while much of the country was under stay at home orders. With each member spending seven to nine hours volunteering remotely every week, they were able to raise funds through promotions, social media efforts, and community assistance. “There was a huge outpouring of support, it was wonderful to see the Baltimore community’s support of frontline workers,” says Tran. “It’s the heroes every day, cleaning floors or caring for patients, we’re trying to do everything we can to support these individuals as they protect our lives.”
To date, Frontline Foods has delivered over 2,000 restaurant packaged meals with a value of over $23,000 to MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, and MedStar Harbor Hospital. “From where it started to where it went, I couldn’t have imagined this,” says Mishra. On the impact of hearing responses of gratitude from MedStar Health, he says, “we didn’t do it for the gratitude, but it’s nice to hear feedback that our efforts created 350 meals to feed everyone on staff one day for example--thank you.”
Tran agrees. “The continued engagement with MedStar Health encouraged us to push on,” she says. “To all the healthcare heroes this year: Thank you for your time, thank you for your energy. I’m so glad we could work with the Baltimore community to show our support for you all.