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Duo delivers 4,000 meals to frontline workers during pandemic

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 5:15 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2021 at 8:51 AM EST
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - The pandemic has been filled with countless twists and turns, but we’ve always been able to count on our frontline workers. To show their appreciation, two Chesterfield women came up with “Meaningful Meals,” a service that delivers free lunches to workers at shelters, hospitals, schools and various non-profits.

Janet Meyers and Claudia Biegler have delivered more than 4,000 meals to frontline workers since the start of the pandemic. One of their stops was at HCA Parham Doctors’ Hospital in Henrico, where they delivered 135 meals to doctors and nurses.

“A lot in the last past 18 months has been challenging. So, something as simple as lunch for us means a lot,” said Marchette Jackson, a nurse at the hospital.

Early in the pandemic, a friend told Janet and Claudia about the problematic situation developing inside a nursing home. “So, Janet and I got together and asked a couple of friends, would you send lunch with us? And that’s how we got started, never thinking anything would come of it other than eight lunches,” said Biegler

Co-founder Janet was happy to see the impact from day one. “They were so excited that we decided to do it again the next month, and we asked a different group of friends to help us the next month,” said Meyers. Things grew exponentially. So much so, they needed a foundation to help support them. They sought out the help of the Richmond Jewish Foundation.

“We established it as a quasi-endowment under the foundation, and that way anyone is able to make a charitable gift to it, to grow the fund, to keep paying for the meals to move forward,” said Richmond Jewish Foundation President and CEO Jesse Feld.

Six months turned into a year, then two years, and now the United States months away from three years battling the coronavirus. “We did not expect to be here this long. We thought by now the pandemic would be over. We thought that everyone would have gone back to having a normal lifestyle,” said Biegler. Even though the end isn’t here, the pair felt it was necessary to push through.

Feld said this is a testament to their dedication.

“One of the phrases we use in the Jewish community is Tikkun Olam, which is Hebrew for “repair the world.” It’s a big value for our community, and they are just resembling that value every day. I know it means so much to them, and I hope it means a lot to the folks who are getting fed by the meals,” said Fled. Simply put, it does. Take it from nurse Emily Crutchfield.

“Our days are so hectic. We like to put our patients first, and sometimes, you know, we’re not able to eat meals or things like that. So, it’s really awesome to get a quick bite of a salad or sandwich and then continue on with our patient care,” said Crutchfield. These are the stories that keep them going. “I called a pharmacist that I know when the pandemic was really raging, and I told them about Meaningful Meals. I explained what we do, and I told them we would like to send your staff lunch. He started crying on the telephone, and he said no one ever thinks of us,” said Claudia.

It’s why Jesse nominated them for the NBC12 Acts of Kindness - giving the pair $300 and a $50 gift card to Mexico Restaurant.

For Janet and Claudia, food is a form of love.

With every sandwich, salad, Hershey kiss and apple they deliver, it’s a friendly reminder to all of our frontline workers that the community is behind them. “We appreciate everything. Nothing is ever too small. So, anything you want to drop off, just know we love it,” says nurse Marchette Jackson.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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