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The Feeding the Frontliners program just completed a very successful run.

Over about seven weeks, starting in late May, the initiative provided 2,465 meals, gift cards and dessert treats for first responders and healthcare personnel serving Lebanon County during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The purpose of the effort was to thank these workers and provide a boost to county eateries whose businesses were hurting.

Feeding the Frontliners was the brainchild of Larry Bowman, past president and CEO of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce. Bowman said in a phone interview that he was inspired after watching news stories about other communities that mounted similar efforts.

Read more: ‘Feeding the Frontliners’ could be a boon for local restaurants, healthcare workers

Read more: Healthcare workers receive 1,900 free meals from county initiative

He said he called couple of friends in the healthcare industry for feedback, and they thought it was a good idea.

Bowman approached County Commissioners Robert Phillips, William Ames and Jo Ellen Litz about funding. They freed up money from the hotel room tax that helps fund Lebanon County tourism through the Visit Lebanon Valley tourist board. The original request was for $10,000, but the allocation ended up being $30,000.

“The commissioners stepped forward in a big way,” he said.

Approximately $27,940 was spent, including a $100 contribution from a member of the public. The $2,000-plus not used is being returned to county coffers.

Key organizers of the initiative were Lebanon Family Health Services, which handled the financial part, and United Way of Lebanon County, which did the outreach to eateries and frontline organizations and set up the schedule. Also supporting this initiative were the Community of Lebanon Association, Downtown Lebanon, the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visit Lebanon Valley.

The meals and gift cards were purchased from 31 restaurants, delis, bakeries and other specialty food retailers in Lebanon County.

Fifteen to 18 volunteers did the pick up and delivery to frontline staff in 32 facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, emergency medical technician locations and others.

Meals were delivered to First Aid & Safety Patrol in Lebanon. (Provided photo)
Feeding the Frontliners fed frontline healthcare workers for seven weeks. The program was funded by the county hotel tax fund.
(Provided photo)
Staff at Juniper Village in Lebanon receive their meals from Feeding the Frontliners.
(Provided photo)
Meals being picked up at Rising Sun Bar & Grill in Campbelltown.
(Provided photo)

Some facilities, worried about bringing food into the building, were given gift cards instead.

“We tried to spread the business around as much as we could among restaurants,” Bowman said.

The feedback coming from the eateries was very appreciative, he said. “Hopefully, it was a nice shot in the arm for them.”

One of the participating businesses was Mount Gretna Craft Brewery in South Londonderry Township. Co-owner Allison Kleinfelter said in a phone interview that when she and her husband, Brad, were contacted about taking part in the initiative, they jumped at the opportunity.

The brewery made about 30-some hearty, high-protein boxed lunches for one delivery and 15-20 meals with different sandwiches for another, she said.

“It was an awesome program,” Kleinfelter said of Feeding the Frontliners.

Pam Shirk, owner of Wrinkle & Boon on Ninth Street in Lebanon, took part as well. A gift shop/boutique with coffee, her business sold about 20-25 gift cards, she said via phone.

One person with the experience of being an organizer of the program and a recipient is Kim Kreider-Umble, president and CEO of Lebanon Family Health Services.

She said in a phone interview that her agency got 20 meals of assorted Mexican food delivered from nearby Queso Dee’as, on Cumberland Street in Lebanon. “It was a perfect match.”

When the program started, Kreider-Umble stated that the goal was “to recognize and thank some of our community’s heroes who are on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus, as well as supporting the restaurants in our community at a very difficult time.”

What Feeding the Frontliners accomplished in less than two months was really impressive, she said.

The restaurants were thankful, and the recipients were incredibly gracious and grateful, Kreider-Umble said.

“It was a wonderful initiative,” she said, “something so positive for our community.”

Frontline Facilities Served

  • Albright Life
  • Cedar Haven
  • Cornwall Manor
  • Crisis Intervention
  • DVI (Domestic Violence Intervention) (Gift cards)
  • EMS — LifeLion
  • Family First Health
  • First Aid & Safety Patrol
  • Food Bank – Lebanon County Christian Ministries
  • Juniper Village
  • Lancaster General Health (North Cornwall)
  • Lawn Ambulance EMS
  • Lebanon County Central Booking
  • Lebanon County Correctional Facility (Gift cards)
  • Lebanon County Dispatch
  • Lebanon Family Health Services
  • Lebanon VA Hospital
  • Lebanon Valley Homes
  • LifeLion EMS (Annville, Ono & Palmyra loctions)
  • Linden Village
  • Manor Care
  • Myerstown EMS
  • Renova Center
  • SARCC (Gift cards)
  • Spang Crest
  • The Caring Cupboard Food Pantry
  • United Way of Lebanon County (Gift cards)
  • UPMC – Lebanon Valley Advanced Care Center
  • UPMC Primary Care Fredericksburg
  • UPMC Primary Care Fredericksburg (Jonestown location)
  • WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital (Gift cards)
  • WellSpan Philhaven

About half a dozen frontline facilities were contacted without receiving a response, according to the report.

Restaurants Utilized

  • 3J’s Coffee Shop
  • A & M Pizza — Campbelltown
  • Batdorf Restaurant
  • Blue Bird Inn
  • Bruno’s Subs
  • Ceballo’s Bakery
  • DiNunzio’s Subs
  • Domino’s (Lebanon)
  • Domino’s (Myerstown)
  • Downtown Lounge
  • Fredericksburg Eagle Hotel
  • Funck’s Family Restaurant
  • The Gin Mill
  • Gus Deraco’s
  • Heisey’s Diner
  • La Placita
  • Lazarro’s
  • Lebanon Farmer’s Market
  • Lisa’s Café
  • Mt. Gretna Craft Brewery
  • Mt. Gretna Hideaway
  • Red Headed League Public House
  • Rising Sun Restaurant
  • Quentin Tavern
  • Quesa Dee’as
  • Sharky’s Pizza
  • Snitz Creek Brewery
  • Swatara Coffee Company
  • Timeless Café
  • Wertz Candies
  • Wrinkle & Boon

Do you know a Lebanon County business with an interesting story to share? Give us advice on what to feature next!

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Paula Wolf worked for 31 years as a general assignment reporter, sports columnist, and editorial writer for LNP Media. A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, she is a lifetime resident of Lancaster County.


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