DENVER (CBS4) - As the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, Lisa Stite and Susanna Kantor knew they needed to help. Susanna, a former hospital worker, and Lisa, married to a doctor, quickly seized on an idea: patronize local restaurants straining to stay open and use their to-go food to feed hospital workers.
"We want to make sure these hospital workers remain supported throughout this entire period," said Kantor.
Denver Feed It Forward was born March 21. Ten days later they have taken in $10,000 in donations, and will deliver 1,000 meals this week.
"We're keeping it local, and it feels really good," said Stite.
They've delivered hot meals to numerous hospitals, care centers and to grocery store workers -- serving the men and women on the front lines of the coronavirus battle.
Kantor and Stite are donating all their time and say every dime collected in their GoFundMe account goes to pay for food from a growing number of local restaurants, which is then delivered to those working the front lines.
"For them it's just such a difficult day. If they can have a warm meal, and it warms their heart to know the community supports them, we can go to bed with a smile on our faces," said Stite.
Many hospitals have closed down hot food offerings in their cafeterias leaving healthcare workers limited in what they can eat during their shifts.
On Monday, the group delivered 650 breakfast burritos from Etai's Bakery Cafe to six Denver area hospitals. A doctor posted the following on Denver Feed It Forward's Facebook page:
"I'm a physician in the ED at the VA hospital! I enjoyed a burrito this morning, and I assure you many people's days were brightened. Thank you so much for caring, we felt the love!"
Elliot Schiffer, co-owner of Mici Italian restaurants, is part of the cause, but his six area stores have been donating hot food to hospitals since the pandemic began. He says they have delivered pizza and pasta to area hospitals every day for several weeks, costing him thousands of dollars in inventory.
"We have friends who are nurses and doctors and know how much stress they are under," said Schiffer. "We want to make it easier for them during this time. It's our way to give back to our community."
He said he has been struck by the generosity of strangers.
"We had someone down in Parker say I want 200 personal pizzas for hospital employees, and I'm going to pay for it myself. People are incredibly kind," said Schiffer. Asked how long he planned to keep making the daily drop-offs at hospitals, Schiffer said, "We are prepared to do this every day for the next two or three months."
The founders of Denver Feed It Forward said more and more restaurants are coming on board, many discounting their prices so their food can feed more healthcare workers.
"We have big plans," said Kantor. "To be able to have something to look forward to, to brighten someone's day, to just be a part of the hopeful, helpful message makes me feel really awesome."
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