Restaurateur Luca Di Pietro (left) delivers free meals to a New York hospital.
Restaurateur Luca Di Pietro (left) delivers free meals to a New York hospital.

A New York restaurateur is feeding hospital workers on the front lines of the fight against the Covid-19 virus. 

Luca Di Pietro owns five Italian restaurants in New York City. When the governor of the state ordered the shutdown of all restaurants, except for take-out and delivery, Di Pietro decided to keep one of his restaurants open.   

On March 19, a customer called and ordered 40 meals to be delivered to the doctors and nurses at a New York City Hospital.

"It made me realize that these people were already overwhelmed, anything that could be done from the outside was greatly appreciated," Di Pietro says.

An idea was born. Di Pietro enlisted the help of his family and employees. Together they built a website and launched a program they call "Feed the Frontlines NYC."

"I had a friend to help me build the website pretty much overnight," says Isabella Di Pietro, the owner's daughter. "So we put it all together, came up with the name, got people working on social media and we’ve had an incredible response since then."

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Since the program was launched, Di Pietro says Feed the Frontlines NYC has raised well over $100,000 and delivered several thousand meals.

Jerome Kapelus, chief financial officer of a gaming-related online business, is one of the people who contributed money to the effort.

"It was a very easy decision," he says. "It’s kind of a win-win. Luca can keep some people employed and most importantly, get some love, gratitude and food to frontline healthcare workers.

"It has grown exponentially,"  Di Pietro says, "Every day we do more deliveries...We are delivering 100 meals today for the emergency room personnel."

Di Pietro says nurses have told him that he’s also saving them valuable time. They no longer have to get out of their protective gear, leave the hospital to get food and come back.

The initiative allows Di Pietro to keep his business going and, thanks to the generosity of his donors, he’s helping the medical teams on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak in America’s hardest hit city.