Groups of volunteers in Orange County and across the country are teaming up with local businesses on a mission of appreciation to feed frontline staff as they tackle the Coronavirus pandemic.
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Front Line Appreciation Groups have popped up all over the United States ever since the pandemic started. The groups’ objectives are to deliver meals to staff and first responders at hospitals, police departments and fire stations in the county from local restaurants in their area.
Two of the groups are operating in Orange County – one in the southern part of the county and the other in the north.
“We wanted to figure out a way to help our local restaurants when also helping our frontline heroes so what we started doing was collecting donations from the community,” said Lora Ragole, founder of Front Line Appreciation Group North Orange County.
“Our objective here is North Orange County to feed as many people as we can as often as we can. We take meals every day.”
Ragole started the group with her daughter on March 30 after they found out about other efforts in the nation to feed first responders. She runs it with four of her friends and they use Facebook to collect donations from the community and showcase their efforts.
Sometimes the group delivers meals multiple times a day- one for a day shift of workers and one for a night shift. So far the group has delivered more than 4,000 meals.
After Ragole formed her group interest sparked in South county. Joy Fumera, the chapter President of American Association of Critical Care Nurses in the Long Beach Orange County area reached out to Ragole after finding out about her efforts.
“I was trying to be funny and say, Hey, what about Irvine? And that’s when she actually connected with me,” Fumera said. “She’s helping me with South county.”
The more recently started South county group is made up of mostly nurses who make deliveries once a week. They are targeting COVID units and front line staff.
For Fumera feeding hospital staff is personal.
“I work in the hospital. I see what I see every day at times it gets to you,” Fumera said. “I know I can give you meds when you’re my patient in the hospital and I can make you feel better. This makes my co-workers feel better and it’s different because I rely on my co-workers a lot.”
She said working as a nurse is not business as usual anymore but that her hospital has been supportive and helped staff prepare to tackle the challenges brought on by the pandemic.
“They never taught you this in nursing school, that’s for sure,” Fumera said. “We had to relearn and learn what our normal is going to be.”
To provide the meals, the groups are striking deals with local restaurants to buy food at a discounted price in order to help support businesses suffering from government mandated closures.
“We’ve been buying meals from them, they’ve given us a good price where they can still make some money but we can also feed our frontline workers a good meal so it’s been a really good relationship,” Ragole said.
Ragole said the deliveries cost between $350-400 each time.
“We’re running out of money. We’ve raised close to $15,000 but we’re down to about $4,000 now,” she said. “We really need some more funds to keep this going for as long as we need to keep it going.”
The South county group is also in need of funds. They’ve focused their efforts on hospitals but want to serve police departments and fire stations as well.
Donations to the South county group can be made through paypal and for the North county group as well through a nonprofit called Making a Difference which the North county group has partnered up with.
Ragole said 100% of the donations goes to paying for meals.
“As long as people are donating then we can keep supporting our local restaurants and our frontline workers,” she said.
For those in the county who are not front line workers and are in need of food there are pantries across the county handing it out for free.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County
Every Saturday from 9 a.m to 12 p.m. at the Honda Center
2695 E Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806
The Vineyard Anaheim Church
Every Wednesday and Thursday from 9-11 a.m. at the church.
5340 E La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA 92807
Laguna Food Pantry
Monday-Friday 8:00 am-10:30 am
20652 Laguna Canyon Road Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Yorba Linda Community Center
Every Thursday 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
4501 Casa Loma Avenue Yorba Linda, CA 92886
The Salvation Army Southern California
Every Monday 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Friday 9:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m.
1515 West North Street Anaheim, CA 92801
Tuesday-Thursday 1-3 p.m.
10200 Pioneer Road Tustin, CA 92782
For more food assistance options visit 211 OC.
If you operate a drive through food pantry in Orange County and would like our newsroom to be aware of your efforts, reach out to Hosam Elattar at email@example.com or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.