As the Sentara Martha Jefferson team puts in long hours to care for patients, the community has stepped in to keep them nourished. In the early days of the pandemic, the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation started a meal train, through which thousands of meals have since been donated and brought to every department in the hospital, including day and night shifts. Private citizens, as well as numerous area restaurants and catering services, have brought in meals and snacks, contributing to the well-being and resiliency of the hospital staff.
“Our staff has been under tremendous stress, and the meal train was a small way in which we were able give back and let them know that we’re thinking about them and that the community is here for them,” says Kimberly Skelly, executive director of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation.
World Central Kitchen (WCK), an international relief organization, became involved in the meal train effort early on, pledging to provide 125 meals each day from late March through May. Champion Hospitality Group’s Brasserie Saison partnered with WCK to coordinate, prepare and deliver the meals.
“Our primary motivation is to show our gratitude for the work of healthcare workers and frontline responders, and this is a way we can support the important work they’re doing,” says Hunter Smith, president and CEO of Champion Hospitality Group. “But this also provides stability to my restaurant and other local businesses that were—and maybe still are—closed due to the pandemic. We’ve been able to support the hospital while keeping our lights on and the restaurant operating.”