Group reboots to provide free meals to healthcare workers and help local restaurants

The Front Line Appreciation Group, or rather known as FLAG, mobilized early in the pandemic to deliver meals to help make sure front line workers taking care of COVID-19 patients were fed.

Now, with cases surging and hospitalizations increasing, the group is going to work again to help those working in healthcare. 

By the numbers, FLAG Metro Detroit raised nearly $378,000 and provided nearly 54,000. The organization was started by six local women who were eager to help. 

“It's needed. We need to support the front line," said Monica Toomey, the group's cofounder. 

FLAG Metro Detroit grew out of the need to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea was born to feed hospital workers. So far 43 local hospitals and 18 sub-acute care facilities have had meals delivered.

"We feel exhausted and then you think of these poor healthcare workers who are on top of everything in the middle of the holiday season," Toomey said. 

And the program helps out others, too - local restaurants prepare the meals, so they get the boost in business. 

"We’re really focused on the mom-and-pop restaurants and focusing on the units in the hospital that have the COVID patients."

The model is simple. FLAG raises money and gives, according to the organization, 99% of the donations to restaurants who prepare and deliver the meals to hospitals.

They suspended services in June when the pandemic hospital rush slowed down, but over the last few days they realized with new safety restrictions on indoor dining, the financial strain on restaurants would worsen. Plus, rising cases and hospitalizations are adding additional stress on healthcare workers. They’ve re-launched to help.

"All of us were getting reached out to by different restaurants that we've worked with, from the different nurses asking us if we were going to be doing anything," Toomey said. 

While many can be home with their families this Thanksgiving, thousands of healthcare workers on the frontlines will be in the trenches caring for patients. FLAG won’t let them be forgotten, so meals are expected to be delivered on Thursday. 

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