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Chef Belkis Crowe Wins Award For Cooking For First Responders During Pandemic, Donates $50,000 Prize To Island Harvest

BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - One good deed leads to another.

A Long Island woman who spent months cooking for front line workers has been awarded a national prize that will help feed even more people.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports, Chef Belkis Crowe is serving up a lot of love in a Baldwin kitchen. She  makes healthy meals for busy clients.

At the start of the pandemic, orders slowed down. Then COVID hit home - her mother-in-law died of the virus. But her cooking didn't take a pause.

"I saw the need to help out. I didn't know what else to do. So I reached out to my friends at the hospitals and started cooking for them too," she said.

It began with trays of food dropped off at one hospital, then more, and firehouses too.


"They were so happy," she said. "Fifteen minutes before I would drop off food, they were like 'There's no food left.' So I cooked every day. Every day," she said.

She did it again and again.

"I need to do something. They're out there, saving life. This is all I can do," she said.

The a client nominated her for a new national honor: The New York Life Foundation's Love Takes Action Award, which not only honors do gooders, but compounds their impact.

More: Island Harvest Food Bank Asking For Help In Combating Food Crisis In Local Communities Caused By COVID-19 Pandemic

"Local individuals in their communities who are going above and beyond to help their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Marlyn Torres of the New York Life Foundation.

Belkis was a winner. The award? $50,000 to the charity of her choice. She picked Island Harvest.

"For her this is a reward to give again. For Island Harvest, $50,000 was just an incredible gift especially especially in the middle of a pandemic," said Island Harvest President Randi Shubin Dresner.

Food donations had halted. Supermarkets were sold out. And the need to feed the hungry doubled.

More: Thousands Of Free Thanksgiving Meals Distributed On Long Island: 'It Means A Lot'

"We heard stories of people planning to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Thanksgiving before they came to our distribution center. So Belkis has changed lives," said Dresner. "To me, you start doing something good, without expecting anything, and that led to something even more amazing."

By accepting the award, she's essentially giving it away - winners all around.

"Small things lead to another thing, you never know," Belkis said. "But that took me to another level to help even more people, feeding people. And for me, feeding people, that's how you show love."

The $50,000 prize to Belkis helped Island Harvest deliver 82,000 meals.

The New York Life Foundation awarded nearly $2 million to 35 nonprofits across the nation through their Love Takes Action awards.


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