News: Culinary Kindness in the Age of Pandemic

At a New York relief kitchen, urgency meets empathy as immigrants create thousands of meals a day

At 5:30 a.m. in the kind of godforsaken industrial crevice of Queens where mob bodies are probably buried, Daniel Dorado recently waited in a line of mostly undocumented restaurant workers before the opening of Restaurant Depot, a wholesaler like Costco on steroids available only to the industry.

Feeding people who need food is meaningful social work, and the Migrant Kitchen NYC is doing it in a socially responsible way: producing thousands of meals daily for healthcare workers and people who are ‘food insecure,’ while paying the workers properly (“They pay wages of $20 to $25 an hour in their kitchen, Jaber said, and with the four other kitchens pooled 40 largely undocumented workers from Make The Road, a civil rights group…”), AND ensuring that any gig workers delivering to homebound folks are also fairly compensated (“Migrant Kitchen’s attention to empathy and generosity operates even at the courier level: Its DoorDash deliveries are filed so that the couriers get $35 per trip.”). It’s meaningful work being done in a meaningful way.

They are cooking serious dishes with foodie love:

The containers would soon be packed with sumptuous entrees: citrus garlic salmon with Cuban black beans and coconut herb rice, or moussaka-stuffed zucchini with dirty rice and beans, or mojo chicken with chimichurri and roasted potatoes with grilled shishito peppers.

And the kitchen is nut-free and halal, to look after a wide range of clients with care.

Dorado put it succinctly: “It’s pure New York. Every kitchen I’ve ever worked in this city has been a mini U.N.”

News: Historic Kindness in the Time of Pandemics

This article got me misty this morning: it describes a wave of Irish donations to help Native Americans currently suffering in the pandemic in remembrance & thanks for a generous donation made by the Choctaw during the famine in Ireland in the 1840s:

“Ireland has never forgotten the Choctaws’ generosity. The tribe had endured a forced 600-mile trek that left thousands dead from hunger, cold and disease, and then impoverishment in Oklahoma, yet somehow rustled up $170 – which today translates to $5,350 – to help the Irish.”

Irish support for Native American Covid-19 relief highlights historic bond

The list of recent donors reads like an Irish phone book. Aisling Ní Chuimín, Shane Ó Leary, Sean Gibbons, Kevin Boyle, Kevin Keane, Clare Quinn, Eamonn McDonald, on and on down a GoFundMe page that by Friday had raised $3.15m of a $5m goal.

I support several charities that feed people already, and so this theme – EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE ENOUGH FOOD – is close to my heart.

Depending on when you read this, the campaign may be over, but I already had donated (thanks to a great local journalist I follow on Twitter, who has a great heart), and want to post the link so you can also, if it’s still timely. The official non-profit sponsor is the Rural Utah Project Education Fund.

Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund organized by Ethel Branch

The Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation are extreme food deserts with only 13 grocery stores on Navajo to serve some 180,000 people and only 3 small grocery marts on Hopi to serve some 3,000 people. These communities also have high numbers of elderly, diabetic, asthmatic, and cancer-afflicted (i.e., high risk) individuals.

News: Economy vs. Living

“And what I said when I was with you that night, there are more important things than living. And that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us,” Patrick said Monday night.

-Texas Lt. Gov. D. Partick, quoted by NBC news, April 21, 2020

This quote would sound fitting during a movie involving an alien and/or military invasion by a murderous, long-time foe to get people to fight a defensive war; it sounds ill-fitting as a rallying cry to go out to sell things and shop.

Yes, I do write dystopian fiction now and then, but our current timeline is giving me a real run for my money. What will qualify as dystopian after this?

News: University/Hospital Healthcare Worker Goodness in the Time of Pandemics

The University of California’s San Francisco hospital and university (UCSF) are sending a team to help out the Navajo Nation. UCSF is a top-ranked hospital, and where I go for care – I’m so proud of them for going to provide their expertise.

UCSF Health Care Workers to Serve in Navajo Nation

A team of UC San Francisco health care workers – seven physicians and 14 nurses – is traveling to Arizona and New Mexico on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, to begin a one month voluntary assignment providing urgently needed health care support for patients in the Navajo Nation, at the request of UCSF’s colleagues in the Navajo Nation.

This trip isn’t a one-off: UCSF has a program offering two-year fellowships to provide medical care in underserved communities. The program is diverse enough that it has alumni who can help in their own communities as well!

Forty-nine health care workers in Navajo Nation are current fellows or alumni of the fellowship. Twenty-five of them are Navajo themselves.  

How cool is that?

So yes, UCSF sent a volunteer team to NYC also, which gives me the warm fuzzies, but THIS fills my eyes with hearts and stars.

News: State Kindness in the time of Pandemics

I haven’t mentioned it before, but my home state has also participated in supporting not only New York, but other states that need ventilators by loaning out 500 to those states that need them.

Early last month, the San Francisco Chronicle’s article, California lending 500 ventilators to distribute to hardest-hit states by Alexei Koseff (April 6, 2020), had some good quotes about states doing right by each other, including a report on Oregon’s loan of 140 ventilators to NYC, and Washington’s return of those it borrowed from the federal government.

The quotes I like are:

“I wish I could solve that for everybody, and to the extent we can, we will,” Newsom said. “This is the state of California. We have an abundant mind-set and we’re a well-resourced state.”

I like the implication that, because we do well, we SHOULD use our position to help others. (The article notes that our early prevention efforts have been successful enough for us to step in for the later-acting states.)

Also:

“We’re Americans, first and foremost,” he said. “As a nation-state, we can do certain things, where we can punch above our weight. We carry a big weight. But to the extent that other Americans need our support, our largesse, to the extent that we have the resources, we’re going to be there for as many people as we possibly can.”

This acknowledges our size and strengths – we are a state with a bigger economy than the UK, India, or France the last time I checked (2018 in Business Insider and currently in Wikipedia’s Economy of California article), and this gives us the opportunity to be a force for good.

The world needs more forces for good.

News: Human Kindness in the time of Pandemics

I got the warm-fuzzies from seeing photos and reports on Twitter about all of the ambulances driving cross-country to help out in NYC. It restored some of my faith in humans. I should share that feeling, so here’s a flurry of general human goodness for you, just a sample of the volunteerism directed toward NYC. (I <3 NY!)

Ohio:

Emotional video: Cleveland man records EMT wife, crew members leaving for NYC in long line of ambulances

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Many Americans are being urged to stay at home during this coronavirus pandemic. But many essential workers can’t – and some are so courageous that they’re volunteering their expertise to help on the front lines.

Nebraska:

Scribner paramedics deployed to New York City to battle COVID-19 pandemic

Joe Roberts had never been to New York City prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. He never experienced the shoulder-to-shoulder stuffy traffic that filled Times Square or the packed parkways that connected the city’s five bureaus.

He remembers state troopers pulling into the median to take photos on his phone as Robert’s convoy of ambulances crossed into New Jersey. He remembers the cars that would drive alongside the ambulances to honk and wave at the first responders as they entered the city.

“I get choked up just thinking about it,” he said. “People would walk up to the truck and just thank them for coming. To have people come up to you as you’re sitting on the corner and just saying thank you, it’s just so hard to put into words.”

-Joe Roberts, volunteer paramedic / regional manager of an ambulance company

Virginia:

Fredericksburg-area EMTs volunteering in NYC see warm welcome, ‘a lot of sleepless hours’

Matthew Hebert’s shifts as a volunteer EMT in New York City are supposed to be 12 hours, but he hasn’t worked a shift that “short” since he arrived April 1. “The shortest shift has been 16 hours and the longest was 26 hours,” said Hebert, 28, during a brief break before taking more 911 calls.

Two hundred and fifty ambulances and 500 EMTs and paramedics from around the country have traveled to New York, which has been a hot spot for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“People are here from California, Texas, Colorado and honestly every state in the U.S.,” Hebert said.

-Matthew Hebert, volunteer EMT

There are a lot of these… I’m just selecting a few.

It isn’t just ambulances, either: medical volunteers are arriving by convoy and bus. There are lots of hometown stories about one or two people volunteering, but here’s one complete with flags and police/fire escorts about a nurse convoy (one of several) from upstate New York – and yes, they got up on a crane and hung a flag, because they wanted to see them off in STYLE:

Area crews honor Upstate nurses headed to NYC | X101 Always Classic

(update 1:35 pm) Around 8:00 this morning, a caravan of 12 vehicles began a trip carrying 25 nurses from Upstate Medical Center to their eventual destination at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. The special escort began at the hospital and continued along Interstate 81 led by the Upstate Hospital Police and …

News: SF COVID-19 Data

My City believes in data! And it even develops graphics to display it so it can be easily interpreted and visualized.

This is a serious topic, and I appreciate how the City is making such an effort to be sure we UNDERSTAND it.

San Francisco COVID-19 Data and Reports

San Francisco’s response to the coronavirus emergency is grounded in data, science and facts. Data are an important tool to help San Franciscans see the whole picture of coronavirus in our community. It can help us all do our part and see over time how the situation is changing.

News/Humor: Foraging Under Stress

I had another one of those trips to the grocery store that made me never want to set foot in it again. There are no delivery appointments available, so it is THE option if I am trying to obtain food within a short distance of my home. It is a risk, because there have been more than 160 confirmed COVID-19 cases in my zip code, which means that neighbors have been, and perhaps continue to be, exposed. Each visit seems slightly worse than the previous one in terms of waiting to get inside (longer), existential dread (more), awkwardness in reaching for an item near other people also reaching (constant), and a lack of accommodation for a minor wrist problem (paper handle bags are a ticket to unavailable physical therapy for me; yes, repacking my groceries outside without touching any environmental surfaces or standing near anyone else in public on a busy street is icing on a sand-based cake).

The staff are hard-working and polite; the rules are well-intentioned. Yet, it still feels like the ordeal dial will turn up each time I go, and my next visit may somehow involve needing to defeat a video game villain in hand-to-hand combat for the right to purchase a pineapple that may or may not be in stock. [Imagine the little 8 bit video game victory song here, with a sad sound if there are no pineapples…]

I’m posting this perspective piece because I find it relatable:

Perspective | The grocery store has become our anxiety-filled hellscape

It does not seem normal, this surge of animal fear I feel buzzing around my ears as I push a cart down the beverage aisle of my grocery store. I spot a couple with a young child approaching me. They aren’t wearing masks, and the little girl is weaving about, arm outstretched.

I am doing okay, and I know how lucky I am to be able to keep myself well-supplied: I just hadn’t expected that needing fruit could ruin my day, that I would be rationing oranges in 2020 to avoid going outside, or that my blood pressure would creep upward whenever there’s only one banana left on the counter.