While Centura Health - St. Mary-Corwin CEO Mike Cafasso has been grateful for the support in the way of pizza, sub-sandwiches and other meals and treats that have been donated to hospital caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic, he thought maybe the hospital should help others in need the next time a donation was lined up.
So, when Fuel Denver Frontlines – a group of chefs from the Denver area who have made it their mission to feed frontline caregivers in hospitals – came calling with a donation of 300 meals to St. Mary-Corwin, Cafasso had an idea.
He asked associates at Pueblo’s Southern Colorado Family Medicine, a clinic known for going outside its walls to help patients through community outreach, to distribute the meals to clinic patients who were most in need.
“When this came about, I just thought it was an opportunity,” Cafasso said. “We thought we might be able to provide for patients, as well.”
Karla Aguero, Community Health Advocate at SCFM, took it from there. With the help of Chantalle Trujillo-Navarrete and Abril Torres, Aguero worked on May 13 to identify patients who might benefit the most from a chef-prepared meal for up to six.
Then, on the morning of May 14, the trio started calling patients to let them know about the meal distribution at SCFM planned for later that afternoon.
By the time the truck from Fuel Denver Frontlines arrived at the clinic, volunteers had set up a drive-up distribution site and cars were lined up eager to accept the meals, which featured rigatoni with zucchini and cherry tomatoes, herb-roasted chicken, broccoli and beverages.
Fuel Denver Frontlines is focused on creating balanced, nutritious meals with a focus on natural foods.
“I think it was great because a lot of our patients are low income. They wouldn’t have the luxury of receiving these chef-prepared meals any other way,” Aguero said.
A team of volunteers came out to help with the setup and unloading the truck, including associates from security, food services, facilities, clinic associates, and physicians and nurses. The distribution itself took place over two days, May 14 and 15.
“We just had a lot of very appreciative patients,” Aguero said.
Aguero said she and other clinic associates were just thankful to see their patients, many of whom haven’t been in the clinic since the pandemic began.
The St. Mary-Corwin Health Foundation worked to secure the Fuel Denver Frontlines meal donations, which are made possible by a gift from the Tuchman Family Foundation. The Gustamo Group, which includes Park Burger, Homegrown Tap & Dough and Birdcall restaurants, are partners in the effort.
“It was very rewarding. It was a positive amid all this craziness that has been happening for the last couple of months,” Aguero said.