Thanks to a number of new initiatives and meal programs popping up throughout the Westside in recent weeks, residents now have the ability to help local restaurants stay in operation while also feeding hundreds of healthcare workers at the same time.
Whether it’s local establishments like Dogtown Coffee, which recently kicked off a meal program of its own, or Help Feed the Frontline LA, an organization that was started in March and has partnered with prominent chefs to expand the cause, Santa Monica residents have a myriad of ways to help feed workers at local hospitals.
Started in March by a group of Los Angeles-based parents, Help Feed the Frontline LA has served more than 28,000 meals to date, according to a gofundme page that is still collecting donations from local residents. The organization regularly serves dedicated frontline workers at 16 locations in Los Angeles, and offers a way for everyone to take action.
Funds for the Help Feed the Frontline LA meals are currently being collected through a GoFundMe page, which has already raised more than $845,000 of its $1.5 million goal.
Anybody who wishes to help feed local “healthcare heroes” can do so by visiting the website bit.ly/2SqIp6q, or they can head over to Dogtown Coffee on Main Street in Santa Monica to support the small business’ latest venture — a new donate-a-meal program.
Detailing how she borrowed the idea from a childhood friend in Brooklyn, Dogtown Coffee co-owner Erica Klein said in an interview Tuesday with her husband Itai Klein that the program has been pretty successful and has already resulted in multiple meal deliveries to hospital staff at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
“We really just wanted to give back and do something for the community, because when you look at what the frontline workers are doing — their courage is staggering,” Klein said in the interview. “So, we wanted to create an easy mechanism for people to show hospital workers a little love, so we came up with the donate-a-meal program that would make it easy for the community to donate and to let (health care workers) know they are appreciated.”
Every order placed online at dogtowncoffee.com features an option to add $10 to their order that will be used to supply an entire meal to a frontline Santa Monica hospital worker.
The co-owners said they and their peers hope the new donate-a-meal program will result in an increased number of orders, which would not only benefit workers on the front lines, but the coffee shop as well.
“The minute we found out that the Apple employee had contracted Covid-19, I remember we decided on-the-spot that it was our responsibility to close — both for our employees and for the customers because there was too little known about the virus,” Klein said.
It would take two weeks for the Kleins and their co-owners Assaf and Itay Raz to reopen in a way that was safe for everybody.
“We decided to close the shop and have all pickups come through our patio window,” Klein said, mentioning a number of other initiatives that were instituted as a result of the pandemic.
Itai Klein described Dogtown as a tight-knit community, so the shop agreed to pay all of their employees’ wages the first week the shop had to close. But finances have been hard since the reopening, despite a limited number of staff making the return to the shop for now.
There have been a number of initiatives started by municipalities and government agencies across the state in an effort to assist small businesses like Dogtown, Klein said, but the local coffee shop has yet to receive a single cent.
“So far, we’ve done everything by the book,” Klein said. “The moment the application opened up on April 3, we were right there ready to go with the documents… We worked with an underwriter and still nothing from anybody.”
Since the reopening, the shop owners have attempted to bring back as many employees as possible, especially its veterans, Klein said, “who’ve been with us here for close to a decade.”
And as long as there is a demand for coffee and to help the front line workers, the Kleins said, Dogtown Coffee and its donate-a-meal program will be around to give the people what they want, whether that be burritos, acai bowls or a number of their other signature selects available on Main Street.
“The best way to order if you want to create a donation is to go through the ordering mechanism on our website at dogtowncoffee.com,” Klein said. “We also deliver with Uber, Grubhub, Doordash, Postmates, and Allset. But with those, you can’t do the donate a meal option.”
More information on Dogtown Coffee’s meal program can be found at dogtowncoffee.com.