Local restaurants, with the support from the community, have been able to provide nurses and other hospital staff free meals despite the challenging economic times.
Since the stay at home order was placed by Governor Newsom and restaurants were forced to close Dean Kim, owner of OC Baking Company, was able to open up his warehouse as a way for local businesses to unite and continue running minimum operations to serve the public.
The local chef-driven market has a handful of other Orange County restaurants participating in the pop-up too, like Adya, Sessions West Coast Deli, and Cali Dumpling Delivery, just to name a few.
Kim partnered with Dee Nguyen, owner of Break of Dawn restaurant in Laguna Hills, and Tarit Tanjasiri owner of Crema Artisan Cafe in Irvine, all local chefs, to create artisan made meals and help feed local frontline healthcare workers.
While Kim provides a loaf of handcrafted bread. homemade soup is made fresh by Nguyen using ingredients from local farms. A sweet gourmet cookie baked by Tanjasiri concludes the meal.
The collaboration combined from these local restaurants has created an opportunity for all healthcare workers to pick up free meals as a sign of appreciation at the Artisan Pop-Up bakery’s production center in Orange every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Ever since the quarantine started, our restaurant has been closed. Instead of cooking for financial reasons, we are able to fulfill our civil duty by feeding the ones who are in need of warm meals like hospital staff, special education students, and law enforcers” said Owner and Chef of Break of Dawn, Dee Nguyen. “We are luckily getting assistance from local farmers and family/friends who are making little donations to keep us doing what we’re doing.”
Glenn Tanaka of Tanaka Farms and Anne Cutner of Solutions for Urban Agriculture have also donated their fresh produce for the chicken noodle soup, as well as King Arthur Flour.
The team collectively has also delivered over 600 prepared meals to local urgent care centers and emergency rooms, making their meals accessible for those who may not have the time to pick up food or make meals after long shifts.
Essential workers have been experiencing increasing levels of demand to work longer shifts as their coworkers become ill or quarantined during the pandemic, making access to nutritional food more important than ever.
Hoag Hospital, Fountain Valley Regional, and Kaiser are some of the facilities in Orange County they have assisted just to name a few.
“It definitely has helped me get through that very long 12-hour shift. It is always nice to be appreciated for what we are doing and to receive gifts such as these is a great pick me up and mentally uplifting” said Darshelle Diamond, a registered nurse at Fountain Valley Regional Center.
But what happens when the economy reopens again, and local restaurants resume back to regular hours and operations? Will small businesses continue to support nurses and other hospital staff?
The pandemic is far from being over as businesses slowly begin to open their doors once more. People are still being infected and diagnosed with the coronavirus every day. New cases are being reported daily and the numbers keep rising.
The general public may be able to go out and enjoy some of the restaurants that have opened, but nurses and other hospital staff are still working long hours and extra shifts, not leaving much time for dining out.
Lines at grocery stores are long and the wait is unmanageable. By the time access is granted into supermarkets to shop, almost all essentials are gone and taken by previous shoppers making it hard to obtain what is necessary to provide for themselves and their families.
Additionally, nurses and hospital staff who work overnight shifts often do not have the chance to order takeout from restaurants or run to the grocery store expecting to find essentials. When they do complete their shifts, they have to run home to take care of family or rest for a new upcoming shift.
“We are grateful that people take time out of their busy schedules to show us they care,” says RN Diamond. “We are also appreciative of the fact that although business has decreased and profits are low, these companies still manage to donate to us. This is truly a gift from one’s heart.”