Anita Qualls was worried when the first cases of COVID-19 hit Georgia. As a University of Georgia alumna about to start medical school in California, she was worried about both the doctors and the patients who would be affected by the coronavirus. She became more aware of the burden upon health care workers in April: testing capacity was low, and more and more doctors would have to work longer hours.
Qualls co-founded Feed the Frontlines Georgia with her friends Aditya Sood, Taylor Stumpf and Taylor Pigg at the beginning of April. The nonprofit has a mission that is “two-fold,” Qualls said. It purchases full price meals from restaurants to help them out when they need it most, and those meals would be “delivered directly to hospital workers on the frontlines at hospitals all around Georgia,” Qualls said.
Pigg and Stumpf are also her now-graduated little and grand-little from her sorority. Alpha Gamma Delta’s philanthropy usually focuses on food insecurity, which Qualls thought could act as a way for the sorority to still partake in their philanthropic mission while raising money for a timely cause.
After talking with the public relations chair of Alpha Gamma Delta, Qualls collaborated with all of Panhellenic Council — which encompasses 19 Greek organizations — for the fundraiser “Panhellenic Hearts Athens.” The fundraiser was mainly a social media push with Instagram story graphics throughout the three days, Qualls said. In those three days, Qualls said that Panhellenic raised $12,200 for Feed the Frontlines, which provided 1,500 meals to health care workers.
Those Athens health care workers are based in the emergency department, the ICU and the COVID-19 unit at Athens Piedmont Regional Medical Center as well as Shifa Clinic and the Athens Nurses Clinic.
Alpha Gamma Delta raised enough to provide 405 meals, fundraising captain Alex Seymour said.
“We had to change and alter our fundraising strategies [after COVID-19],” Seymour said. “We’ve always been driven to help fight hunger, and our philanthropy goals aligned with the problems that the coronavirus caused.”
Although Feed the Frontlines feeds health care workers in 41 hospitals and clinics “all around Georgia,” Qualls said, part of its mission focuses on local restaurants.
“We love our Athens community and its restaurants,” Caroline Gemes said. Gemes is the director of community outreach for Chi Omega, another sorority which took part in the fundraising effort. In her role, Games helped lead Chi Omega’s fundraising efforts by encouraging members to raise money and meals.
Gemes also said that, after the fundraising efforts were over, sororities could submit a request for a specific local restaurant to be catered to health care workers. She submitted a request for Marti’s at Midday because she wants to see these places stay open when students return back to school in the fall, she said.
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Another delivery to Athens Piedmont Regional 🥰 thanks @martisatmidday for providing the food and supporting the healthcare team!! . #georgia #frontlineworkers #nonprofitorganization #sendtheloveatl #supportlocal #supportsmallbusinesses #covid19support #frontlineheroes #thankyouhealthcareworkers #athensga #mealdelivery
“All of our students want these restaurants to be open when we come back to them,” Gemes said.
Other restaurants touched by Feed the Frontlines included Donderos’, Bubble Cafe, Chuck’s Fish, Athens Bagel Company, and DePalma’s, according to the organization’s website.
Fundraising efforts in general have slowed down for Feed the Frontlines because the state has moved on in the reopening process. People have moved on too, Qualls said.
“The struggle is, even though we want to move on, that doesn’t mean that COVID has disappeared,” Qualls said. “We’re trying to do some ongoing fundraising and doing some deliveries, but it’s at a lower volume than six weeks ago.”