CEDAR GROVE, NJ - Brandon Hoagland and his wife Caidie Wong, owners of Cedar Grove’s DelMonico Steak & Beyond, knew they had the power to do some good during this unprecedented time.
“As restaurant owners, we are given an opportunity to be involved in the community on a daily basis,” Hoagland said. “Police officers, doctors, nurses, mailmen, and grocery clerks are our customer base, and they have supported us over the years. We wanted to make sure that in their time of need, we support them as well.”
With that in mind, the couple set up a GoFundMe about three weeks ago to raise money to provide meals for first responders, healthcare workers and other essential employees. Residents responded by donating thousands of dollars. To date, between residential donations and corporate donations, the fund has amassed nearly $10,000.
So far, DelMonico's has given meals to the Montclair Ambulance Squad, the Little Falls Police Department, and Atlantic Ambulance (which is currently servicing Cedar Grove residents, among others). This week, they have plans to utilize a sizable donation from Insight Global, a corporation that works for Meridian Health, in order to donate more than 200 meals to Morristown Medical Center, Hackensack Hospital and Saint Barnabas Hospital.
But it’s not just medical workers that are getting a hot plate of chicken Francaise, penne vodka, or carnitas tacos. “It was important for us to also give to workers at Foodtown, because we felt that they are the neglected workers who are also on the front lines. We plan to eventually give to local postal workers as well,” said Hoagland.
The couple also made sure to include night shift workers, as most food donations are made during the day. “We made sure to go to the night shift at the Bloomfield P.D., Beth Israel Hospital, and Montclair Ambulance Squad, and will also donate during the night shift at Hackensack Hospital at the end of this week.”
Hoagland and Wong are taking their cues from the community as to where funds should go.
Residents such as Lionor Carpenter, who works for the Bloomfield Rescue Squad, suggested that meals would help those who work at Beth Israel Hospital, where she also works as a nurse. Cedar Grove resident Vicky Solly is acting as liaison for an upcoming donation to Hackensack, where she works as a nurse.
"It’s just important to us that we can give them a hot meal,” said Hoagland. “I love pizza, and can eat it every day, but we know that healthcare workers can’t survive just on that. We want to give them something substantial. We are donating two meals so that they have lunch and can take something home for dinner. You can tell it’s emotionally draining. They are giving it their all. They are working 24-hour shifts and it’s taking its toll. The least we can do is give them a meal so that they are well-fed.”
If you would like to donate, please follow this Go Fund Me Link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/donatemealstothefront-line?fbclid=IwAR0fxo0Y8vWWs0UASrVGx-GtqH0o5xAScDVmHxAH6S_L7pNxVtRUxVppe8U
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.