Last night, Nicole Straight sat home feeling anxious.
Her daughter — suddenly home from college — was working a volunteer shift at EMS.
Food Rescue US — the app that uses volunteer drivers to move food that would otherwise be thrown away by restaurants to shelters, kitchens and pantries, and which Nicole runs locally — had gotten slammed. Longtime generous donors were suddenly shutting down.
As she chatted with a friend — an ER nurse at Norwalk Hospital — Nicole had an idea. What if she could get meals from a local restaurant, and bring them to first responders?
She called Bill Taibe — owner of The Whelk, Jesup Hall and Kawa Ni, who had just announced an end to in-house dining. He was happy to help.
Nicole told him to make whatever he wanted, and pack it individually. She’d bring it to Westport EMS.
Bill calculated the cost at $15 a meal. Nicole posted that information on Facebook. She hoped to get enough donations so she would not have to cover 50 meals — $750 — herself.
Since last night, almost $6,000 has poured in.
Old Post Tavern in Fairfield asked if they could help. An ICU nurse from Norwalk Hospital said her crew would love a meal.
Nicole’s daughter contacted the crew chief from Norwalk EMS. Tomorrow, they and the ICU unit will get 70 meals, courtesy of Old Post Tavern.
Nicole is also setting up meals for Trumbull EMS, Bridgeport Hospital’s ER and ICU, and Bridgeport’s Harding High School Adversity to Prosperity program, which keeps at-risk youth off the streets and involved in sports.
She is looking for first responders who’d like a meal, and restaurants who would like to help (and be paid, of course).
Meanwhile, Nicole is setting up a GoFundMe page, so other communities can also support both restaurants and first responders.
Until then, people can Venmo @nicole-straight. She’ll buy meals from local restaurants — and bring them to first responders around Fairfield County — as long as she can.