Adelphi’s nursing program faculty members have been bringing lunch to area hospitals during the crisis. By ordering the food locally, they are helping Long Island's struggling restaurant owners, too.

As COVID-19 tore through New York, the dean and faculty of Adelphi’s College of Nursing and Public Health did a simple good deed for frontline healthcare workers battling the illness at area hospitals. They bought them lunch.

Beginning in early April, a cart of 10 to 20 large pizzas or sandwich platters rolled into the break room of a different facility each week: Huntington Hospital–1 North, Mercy Medical Center, Mount Sinai South Nassau, NYU Winthrop Hospital, Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Good Samaritan Hospital.

“These people were working virtually nonstop in 12-hour shifts at the height of the pandemic, so they’re appreciative,” said Caitlin McElroy, special assistant to the dean of the College of Nursing and Public Health. “It’s been extremely rewarding for us to help them.”

Adelphi staff provided one meal to each of the six hospitals, feeding about 40 hospital workers each time. The College’s dean, administration and faculty paid for the food out of their own pockets, buying the lunches from small businesses that have been struggling to survive amid the closures due to COVID-19.

“We ordered from local restaurants so our help could be two-pronged, both for the hospital workers and the community businesses,” McElroy said.

“Ingrained to Serve”

The idea to provide lunches for healthcare workers came from Elaine L. Smith ’78, MS ’88, EdD, dean of the College of Nursing and Public Health. McElroy said the College’s faculty members—many of whom also work in hospitals—wanted to help and show their appreciation.

“It was their way of saying ‘We’re here for you. We support you.’ It’s ingrained [in them] to serve,” she said.

The nurses have certainly been grateful. “We got tons of thank-you emails,” McElroy said. “They appreciated the support—and the food.”

Adelphi’s faculty works closely with the staff at the Dedicated Education Units of these hospitals, which provide Adelphi nursing students with their clinical training. “Our senior leaders have close relationships with these sites. They’re our clinical partners,” McElroy said.

The ties are so close that many of the healthcare workers the faculty are feeding are Adelphi alums.

Lunch arrives at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, New York.

Adelphi Feeds the Community, Too

When classes moved online and Adelphi’s student dining rooms emptied out, there was an opportunity to provide meals to the broader Long Island community as well. With the unemployment rate nationwide nearing 15 percent by April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and many area businesses closed, some families are struggling to put food on the table. Chartwells Higher Ed, the food service company that provides meals on campus, has donated food that would have been served to students to food banks instead, including those nearby in Nassau County at the Hempstead Police Department, the Church of Saint Joseph of Garden City, and The Experience Vineyard Church in Rockville Centre.

“We’ve been feeding 150 to 200 families each week,” said Jennifer Schirmacher, resident district manager for Chartwells. She says Chartwells is also working with local dairy, produce and food purveyors as well as other Chartwells clients to get goods to Long Island food banks. The company picks up donations each week from all the locations and takes them to food pantries, Schirmacher said.

“The last thing we want is for any food to go to waste,” she said. “We are always looking for ways to make the environment and world a better place.”

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
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