Local campaigns feed Twin Cities' COVID-19 medics, ICU nurses

Staff at Abbott Northwestern Hospital receive food via Meals for Medics.

Staff at Abbott Northwestern Hospital receive food via Meals for Medics. Midtown Global Market

The concept of feeding healthcare workers certainly didn’t start with Lizzo. 

Nonetheless, when the formerly local rapper donated a clutch of mystery sandwiches to Fairview’s ER staff, it’s like we could hear Twin Citizens’ necks crack and pop as everyone turned their attention to fueling (not just properly dressing) frontline workers throughout this crisis.

In the weeks since everything went to hell, there’s been no shortage of campaigns to support healthcare workers. The three below take unique approaches to the issue of keeping these workers’ bellies filled; one takes a deeply personal route to feeding one ICU’s staff of nurses, another collects and delivers Minnesota’s best goods for on-the-go power-snacking, and yet another option keeps a couple neighboring health centers running at peak performance thanks to the help of big, recognizable names. 

Look: The ways to provide support to those on the frontlines are multitudinous. These are just a few. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to be generous, in ways big or small, for as long as this takes.


Meals for Medics

If you’ve ever set foot inside the Midtown Global Market, the inclination for vendors to help approximately 2,000 employees at Allina Health makes perfect sense, as the two vastly different operations coexist inside the Midtown Exchange. Allina’s doctors, nurses, and staff – as well as that of the neighboring Abbott Northwestern Hospital – rank among the Global Market’s most loyal customers and supporters.  

Meals for Medics was created by Friends of Global Market Inc. to demonstrate their appreciation for all healthcare and medical workers. The Minneapolis Foundation then swiftly supplemented their initial gesture with a Text to Give campaign, which matches each donation up to $10,000.

Not only do donations guarantee meals for those serving on the frontlines, each donation also acts to provide support for small businesses at Midtown Global Market, many of which have been there since its opening day in 2004. Throughout the estimated 60-day campaign, healthcare workers will receive meals, fruits and vegetables, and rotating menu items all from various Midtown Global Market businesses. 

To participate, text mealsformedics to 243725, or visit the Meals for Medics GoFundMe page. Any donation is valuable. 

Feed A Nurse MN

Looking to put a face and name to your giving, for a more personal touch? Check out Feed A Nurse MN. Created by Leah Shiely Swenson and Lisa Nemer Noah, the mother and future mother-in-law of Kelsey Swenson, an ICU nurse at United Hospital in St. Paul, this campaign feeds one specific (large) crew of very tired ICU nurses.

Per Kelsey’s estimate, United’s ICU schedule involves three shifts daily, comprising approximately 25 nurses per shift. Many individuals work back-to-back 12-hour shifts, or up to 16 hours at a time. Exhaustion aside, the logistics of finding (or scheduling the arrival of) food can become a struggle. She writes: “Health care workers are worried about going to the store to be potentially exposed, or potentially exposing someone else.”

That’s where the moms’ campaign comes in. “We are worried for her and her co-workers and wanted to do something to help besides staying home and washing our hands!” 

To keep things on the up-and-up, Nemer Noah is maintaining a spreadsheet of receipts and disbursements, and is paying local restaurants for meals directly. More than 40 meals have already been delivered to nurses this week, from local stalwarts like Cecil’s Deli, Pizza Lucé, and Brasa Rotisserie, and more. 

Feed the Frontlines You Betcha! Box

Share Local Love LLC has developed a "Feed the Frontlines You Betcha! Box" filled with the healthy, nutrient-dense, grab-and-go snacks Minnesota’s COVID-19 crisis workers need when they don't have time to sit down for a proper meal. Like the original You Betcha! Boxes, each package is stocked with products from dozens of small Minnesota makers.

“This company has always been about creating a stronger Minnesota by supporting our community and those around us,” says founder and CEO Katie Sterns of this nonprofit round of boxes. “We hope this campaign will help our small businesses as well as show appreciation and provide nutrition to the incredible people working around the clock and putting themselves in harm's way on our behalf.”

Though Sterns is assembling each with care at no personal gain, she’s ensured each maker is being paid for their product. The boxes are packed with 36 items apiece, including items that taste like treats despite their snack status. Think: switchels from Hobby Farmer Canning Company, a chaat snack mix from Ancient Indian Spices, Kuzala Organic Coconut Macaroons, Barsy's Almonds and Patti's Nuts, Oak Valley Creations tea, and more.

Boxes are available for purchase outright, though donations in any amount can be contributed toward a box at their fundraiser page. To nominate a frontline team that would benefit from a Feed the Frontlines You Betcha! Box, go here.