Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Help Provide Meals for Emory Healthcare Workers

Ben Ladner

As the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak presses healthcare workers into longer and more stressful hours, the Hawks are doing their part to support those working tirelessly to help fight the spread of novel coronavirus. On Friday, the Hawks Foundation and State Farm initiated the Healthcare Heroes project, which will help fund the preparation of 4,000 meals each week for roughly 1,000 healthcare Emory Healthcare workers in Atlanta.

The program allows local restaurants to re-employ recently laid off or furloughed food workers, which will not only provide food for those caring for coronavirus patients, but help support others who were affected financially by COVID-19.

“The work of the medical community in combatting COVID-19 across the nation has been inspiring and absolutely incredible. While there is no way to truly repay our doctors, nurses, first responders and other healthcare workers for making this sacrifice and taking the risks they are taking every day, this effort is an important way to show our great appreciation of their heroic work on behalf of the city of Atlanta,” said Principal Owner Tony Ressler. “We are also proud that this program will aid our friends in the restaurant community, allowing many Atlantans in the food industry to keep or regain employment during this difficult time.”

The meals will reach six different Emory Healthcare hospital locations, and food will be provided by Forza Storico and Miller Union -- two local Atlanta restaurants that were temporarily closed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and therefore had to cut staff. This program will allow the restaurants to re-employ those staff, as well as the farmers, bakers, and ranchers who help provide their ingredients.

“Miller Union is really proud to be a part of the Atlanta Healthcare Heroes project with the Atlanta Hawks, State Farm and Emory Healthcare,” said Miller Union co-owner Steven Satterfield, who won a James Beard Award in 2017. “It allows us to keep some of our staff on payroll during incredibly uncertain times, by making nutritious, restaurant-quality meals for healthcare workers and help support local farmers, who are definitely feeling the effects of the COVID-19 crisis as well. But the best part is knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of the frontline healthcare workers that are risking their lives to save others and sending them home with the gift of good food.”

Meal deliveries will begin on Friday and continue for the next four weeks, and the program could expand in the near future as a way of providing relief to more healthcare workers and helping keep the Atlanta restaurant economy afloat while citizens wisely avoid going out in public. Meals will be distributed two to five times per week during that four-week span.

“This act of kindness will go very far with our employees who are caring for patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals,” said Emory Healthcare President and CEO Jonathan Lewin. “We thank everyone for this terrific partnership.”

This is the second significant humanitarian effort by the Hawks since the NBA season was suspended on March 11. Last week, the Hawks and State Farm partnered with Goodr, a local startup company dedicated to fighting hunger, to fund meals for vulnerable communities in Atlanta with pop-up grocery stores around the city. With this new initiative the Hawks and State Farm will be able to reach more people in the Atlanta community who need help the most.

Hawks Partner With City of Atlanta to Fight Hunger

The Hawks have partnered with State Farm, the city of Atlanta, and Goodr, a local startup geared toward fighting hunger in Atlanta, to help provide food for those who need it during the ongoing novel coronavirus crisis.

“In this extremely stressful time for so many in the health field, we hope that by delivering a quality, nutritious meal we can provide a bit of relief, give them one less thing to worry about and remind them that we care about them and appreciate all that they are doing for Atlanta,” said Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena CEO Steve Koonin. “The fact that we can help great Atlanta restaurants rehire staff and keep their local suppliers in business is a powerful benefit that also helps the community.”

Atlanta hospitals are nearing full capacity, and ICU beds in the city are already at capacity as more and more people contract, suffer with, and die from the coronavirus. It is imperative that people practice social distancing and frequent hand-washing to help slow the spread of the pandemic and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, especially in larger cities like Atlanta. Not everyone has the means to help provide food for thousands of people, but we all have a small part to play in fighting this virus and mitigating its impact.