A Windsor Italian restaurant has delivered more than 800 free meals to health-care workers
Mezzo Ristorante plans on continuing deliveries for as long as possible
As health-care workers continue to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic both in Canada and around the world, people have been finding creative ways to show their appreciation for those on the front line fending off the novel coronavirus.
Last week, staff with Mezzo Ristorante on Erie Street in Windsor — as well as volunteers with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 773 — began delivering free pasta, sandwiches and salads to health-care organizations across the region, including both Windsor Regional Hospital campuses, as well as Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare's site.
Filip Rocca, co-owner of Mezzo Ristorante which is closed for dine-in and take-out, said the partnership began last week, during a brainstorming meeting with IBEW Local 773 business manager and CEO Karl Lovett.
"[Lovett] was mentioning that he's trying to help out the hospitals, with masks and stuff like that, and I couldn't get those," Rocca said. "We were just sitting there and we talked about bringing some food for the hospital … We both mutually agreed that it was a good idea."
Rocca reached out to the leaders of different health-care organizations in the region, including the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance and Erie Shores HealthCare, to coordinate scheduled meal deliveries.
"I called Chatham, I called Leamington and I called Windsor," he said, adding that Chatham-Kent officials wanted Windsor officials to schedule delivery dates first due to the greater number of health-care workers in the Rose City.
And while Rocca got in touch with local suppliers and other Erie Street businesses to source goods and produce — including tomatoes and cucumbers from Mor Gro in Leamington, bread from Mancini's Italia Bakery in Windsor, and even pasta from La Stella Supermarket in Windsor — Lovett began working on raising funds to cover costs.
"I went to the executive [team] that works with me and alongside me in the IBEW and I said, this is what I'm looking forward to doing ... I just need your blessing" Lovett explained. "Without a doubt, unanimously they said, 'Whatever the cost, let's get it done, let's make sure these people are taken care of.'"
According to Rocca, there are currently three staff cooking and preparing meals in the Mezzo Ristorante kitchen.
Rocca explained that the restaurant's large kitchen means there's ample room for all three cooking staff.
Lovett said approximately six people are working on packaging the meals, making sure to stay safe in order to avoid potentially spreading germs.
"We're taking turns building boxes, putting the packages together and then the chefs come out of the kitchen … they put [the food] in the containers," he said. "We're all gloved up and [we have] masks … we'll put the lid on one of the boxes, tape them, and then we sign them and they're ready to go."
The partnership delivered its first meals last Thursday, having produced more than 800 meals so far. The duo plan on continuing to deliver meals for at least three weeks, making daily trips to health-care organizations.
In addition to health-care organizations, Rocca and Lovett have coordinated deliveries to two Essex-Windsor EMS sites. They hope to expand to provide meals to the Windsor Police Service as well.
In the meantime, Rocca said reactions have been quite positive, with the phone "off the hook and blowing up the first day."