When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Sidley’s Corporate Responsibility Director Stacy Rotner was compelled to act. Living in New York City, amid news about the ever-worsening conditions and the frequent sirens rushing victims to area hospitals, she decided to leverage her experience at a large law firm with a deep commitment to social responsibility to support her community.
Stacy contacted a friend who is an emergency department doctor in the city and asked if sending meals would be helpful. He replied that since hospital cafeterias and many local restaurants were closed, doctors and nurses working extended shifts had few food options and that providing meals would be extremely helpful. A few days later, she launched a grassroots initiative to feed frontline healthcare workers in Emergency and ICU departments of New York City hospitals—all from her apartment. She named her initiative GratiFoodNYC, “sending gratitude through food,” and, via a Facebook post, asked her friends and contacts to consider helping her. Her initial goal was to raise $6,000 to feed 70 front-line hospital workers at three different hospitals weekly for four weeks. Donations poured in from family, friends, colleagues and even complete strangers. They came in every amount, from across the United States and around the world. Within 24 hours, her GratiFoodNYC initiative raised over $10,000, and in less than four weeks, GratiFoodNYC had raised over $65,000 to feed frontline workers. Within the first month, GratiFoodNYC had donated and delivered nearly 3,000 meals across 12 New York City hospitals in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.
Now, after successfully feeding frontline healthcare workers, GratiFoodNYC turns its attention to the dire issue of food insecurity in New York City. With more than one million New York City residents facing unemployment, a third of food pantries closed due to the pandemic, and food lines at open pantries extending for blocks, it is clear that fellow New Yorkers are going hungry. GratiFoodNYC has officially partnered with New York Common Pantry, a longstanding 501(c)(3) organization that supports food insecure individuals in New York City with a soup kitchen, two choice food pantries and over 100 food distribution locations. Since the partnership launched, GratiFoodNYC has raised over $100,000 for New York Common Pantry.
As Stacy sees it, “GratiFoodNYC began with the generosity of fellow citizens taking care of its frontline healthcare workers, so it felt natural for GratiFoodNYC to now extend that support directly to fellow citizens through Common Pantry.”
Mike Schmidtberger, chair of Sidley’s Executive Committee, shared that “We are very proud of Stacy and the work she is doing to care for New Yorkers in need during this crisis. Our firm is committed to social issues, and we are especially gratified when our people walk the talk in such a demonstrable way.”
If you would like to become involved in the work that GratiFoodNYC is doing, please contact Stacy Rotner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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