Montpelier restaurants cook up thank you meals for health care workers

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Montpelier area restaurants are busy cooking up thank you meals for health care workers and local residents.

"People move really fast in health care, and they don't often have time for self-care," said Anna Noonan, the president of the Central Vermont Medical Center.

The meal delivery program is dubbed "Neighbors Helping Neighbors."
It's making it a whole lot easier for front-line workers like those at the Central Vermont Medical Center to take care of themselves before taking care of others.

"When things were super busy, having the meals donated and brought to the areas where they're providing the care is just that one step of convenience for them. They can take a minute, breakaway and nourish themselves, reenergize themselves," said Noonan.

The hospital is just one of a variety of locations receiving donated meals from downtown Montpelier restaurants like Langdon Street Tavern and Pinky's. The community operation is funded by Union Mutual, an insurance company in the heart of the Capital City.

"One of the best parts about working in Montpelier is being able to be downtown and having all kinds of different restaurants down here for lunch, and we're like, 'Oh, these are our friends, too. What are they going to do if all of us are now working from home,'" said Anna Grearson, a Union Mutual employee.

In mid-March, Union Mutual president Michael Nobles and Grearson partnered with a couple of restaurants to pay for meals that cost between $10 to $15 with the agreement the businesses would make and distribute them to front-line workers and people in need.

"The initiative has grown," said Nobles.

It's grown from delivering a handful of meals a week to about 750, including police and fire departments, homeless shelters and nursing homes.

Forced to lay off all his employees, Langdon Street Tavern owner David Thomas says the couple extra bucks is a boost to his business during an extremely slow time.

"We've taken definitely a drastic hit revenue-wise. Obviously we're not having people in the bar. We're a sports bar... no sports," said David Thomas, the tavern's owner.

For restaurants, the money is keeping the lights on and food in the fridge. For front-line workers, the meals are keeping their bellies full and spirits up.

"It really is validating for all the work that they've done," said Noonan.