Feeding the Frontline

June/July 2020 View more

Naperville restaurants have been serving meals to frontline workers since the beginning of the pandemic, thanks to the Naperville Helps campaign. Within hours of the stay-at-home order being announced, the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Naperville Alliance banded together to create the program as a means to support local eateries, medical staff, and first responders.

“The idea came from the community and we ran with it,” says NACC president and CEO Kaylin Risvold. “We started a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $10,000. I think we met that in the first six hours, so we kept increasing our goal. In less than five days, we raised more than $25,000. The
community’s generosity exceeded all our expectations.”

With a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination, the program has supported many first responders. Here’s how it works: GoFundMe donations (gofundme.com/naperville-helps) pay for the meals. Restaurants sign up online to provide and deliver individually prepackaged meals to the Edward-Elmhurst Health system, the Naperville Police Department, and the Naperville Fire Department.

“The restaurants have been so grateful. One owner told us it helped cover payroll for the week. This is a win-win-win on so many levels,” says Risvold. “Not only is it giving restaurants the cash they need, it’s giving fantastic meals to our healthcare workers and first responders.”

Over 1,000 meals per week are now being provided, a number that keeps growing—at press time over $76,000 had been raised to purchase meals.

“We couldn’t do any of this if Naperville didn’t rally around the businesses and all those working to keep us safe. It’s a true testament to our town,” says Risvold.

Photos Courtesy Edward-Elmhurst Health, NACC, Francesca’s Restaurant Group