‘Feed the Frontliners’
During the first week of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in March, Monica Wen-Angping faced two issues: she did not want the food items from the family restaurants Rolls Republic and Ping Yang Hot Pot (founded by her mother) to go to waste, and she also wanted to help the doctors, nurses and other health personnel on the front lines of this pandemic.
“All the restaurants were closed, and no one could come to work,” recalls Monica, a member of the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Manileña chapter. “We were faced with a ton of perishable goods.”
Monica loves to cook, and thankfully friends started requesting her to cook for them. Soon, she had her hands full. Friends supplemented by doing the groceries.
“Back [during the] ECQ, it was hard for me to buy groceries and order food. When friends and even total strangers offered to do this and even paid for it, it was easier for me to concentrate on cooking.”
Every day, in the kitchen of their condominium, Monica cooked for 25 front-liners. This figure multiplied, reaching 176 at its height. To date, the program has supplied more than 3,500 meals to various hospitals.
“I am lucky to have Hans, my supportive husband, who looked after our baby while I cook all day long.” Hans is alsoo a member of JCI Manila.
Feed the Frontliners got off to a good start. A friend, Ken Chua, conceived the name for this homegrown effort, and made the initial artwork that sought pledges from donors.
“We run this program separately at this point,” Monica says. “Ken has his own source of funds, and so do we.”
Logistics was particularly difficult during ECQ. A JCI colleague, Dianne Abella, came on board.“It was too much work to [accomplish] the logistics, including communication with hospital staff for receiving the meals. Dianne used her time and money to support logistics since the start.” Another JCI friend, Jenifer Uy, joined them. Afterwards, they spearheaded another project, Mask for Survival, to donate face masks to front-liners. More than 200 boxes of masks were sent to hospitals, and this project is now under the aegis of JCI Manileña and its president, Charis Gutierrez.
When the ECQ was relaxed to a general community quarantine, some of her staff returned to the restaurant, where the bulk of the cooking now takes place.
Today, Monica concentrates on looking for sponsors for Feed the Frontliners. “At the start, people easily responded to our requests through group chats. Then we had to stop for two weeks due to lack of funds, and it became harder to get sponsors.”
Monica harnessed friends and family. “Aunts and uncles are spreading the word, and we are getting help from overseas through these channels.” (Disclosure: I learned about this program from Monica’s aunt Phoebe Ang Wong, my close friend since grade school.) Strangers are also pitching in. “I have not met some of them but they helped me gather funds, with special mention to Jessalyn Tan who tirelessly helps us.”
Heartfelt messages of thanks from hospital personnel encourage the team to continue. The need for support remains as urgent now.
“We noticed a significant drop in sponsors during the modified enhanced community quarantine. But it is still very hard for hospital staff to leave their duties to go out and buy food, let alone change out of personal protective equipment and exit during lockdowns.”
Monica and her team plan to send 100 meals every day to Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila, 70 meals to V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City and 50 meals to San Juan Medical Center. Other hospitals ask for help from time to time.Each packed meal costs P95, cooked in batches of 25, 50, 75 or 100 at a time.
To family businesses, Monica says, “Help in your own little way.”
“Today, we only have funds until the next week. Let us give this small token of appreciation to our front-liners,” she adds.
Contact Monica Wen-Angping on Viber at +639175626176.
Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” at www.lazada.com.ph. Contact the author at [email protected]
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