There's a new way to show some appreciation for health care workers on the front lines battling the coronavirus outbreak while simultaneously supporting local pizzerias.
Pizza delivery app Slice has partnered with Slice Out Hunger and Pizza to the Polls to create a new campaign that the groups are calling Pizza vs. Pandemic. It allows thankful citizens to feed the tireless workers who are putting themselves at risk everyday by sending them some love in the form of cheesy goodness.
In less than a week, the campaign has sent over 2,700 pizzas to hungry doctors, nurses and other hospital staff members.
Scott Wiener, the founder of Slice Out Hunger spoke to TODAY Food and said that the collaboration between the three organizations happened quickly after he received a call from Ilir Sela, the founder and CEO of Slice.
"Within a few hours we hashed everything out and had it up and running," Wiener said of the campaign. "It's 100% volunteer-run. I'm literally sitting here with a Google Sheet and our nonprofit credit card placing orders."
Here's how it works. People can make a donation online, with or without suggesting a specific medical facility. That money goes into the campaign's fund and then Pizza vs. Pandemic volunteers will call each care center to arrange the best delivery time, so orders are scheduled based on the staff needs. The donation form includes space for people to add in a direct connect, which makes it easier for the volunteers to coordinate a potential delivery. After the volunteers confirm the type of pies requested and how many to buy, they order the pizzas from a local pizzeria best equipped to serve a medical facility nearby, within the designated time frame.
"We have tons of requests for the same hospitals, but they’re often for different units so we try to satisfy them all," Wiener said. "Once the team has confirmation, they link up with a local pizzeria and the order is placed."
"We are sending 20 to 50 pizzas at a time." Wiener told TODAY. Currently, a lot of pies are being sent in New York, which, as of Friday, had the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. However, the campaign has also sent quite a few pies to hospitals in Indiana, Arkansas and California.
Wiener said he hopes the free food will make a difference in the lives of those working so tirelessly to save others.
"It’s so frustrating being separated from everything and only hearing bad news," he said. "With this concept, we’re able to concentrate on positivity and people helping other people."
At first, Wiener did worry that the massive pizza deliveries would be an intrusion on workers' busy schedules. So far, however, he said the response from those receiving pies has been nothing but grateful.
"I was so nervous that we would be bugging them, but the response has been so positive. They are so happy people are thinking of them," he said.
The impact has also been positive on the local pizzerias taking the orders.
"They are overwhelmed and overcome with emotions," Wiener said of local restaurant owners. "This is also about supporting independent pizzerias."
Slice usually charges the pizzerias on its platform about $2 for every transaction, but all funds from the donations used to purchase pizzas for this initiative will go directly toward the businesses.
For anyone who feels like they aren't doing enough to show support for those batting coronavirus, Wiener said no one should be feeling guilty.
"Staying home is good for your health and good for helping other people," he said.