From Elise Tresley, CEO/Co-Founder of mēle:
When COVID-19 first turned the world upside down, we were following the headlines and reading the news like everyone else. It was heavy and dire. The future felt uncertain—it still does. But we decided this wasn’t a time to pull back, this was a time to step-up. Once we made sure our team was healthy and safe, we asked ourselves how we could help.
If you aren’t familiar with mēle, we’re a wellness food company that offers no-prep, fully-balanced smoothies made of freeze-dried fruits, veggies, nuts, and protein. A number of our customers happen to be doctors and nurses. With these customers in mind, we reached out to our community and asked one question: "do you work at a hospital that we can help?" What came next started with a single reply from a Resident at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx—a note that soon became one of many we’d receive.
"Our resident physicians sometimes work > 24 hour shifts. They aren't able to prepare food. For example, we currently have 30 patients on the ventilator in one unit — staffed only by 4 people. There is not even time for bathroom breaks — patients are dying, transferred in, requiring push medications. It's madness. We would be so grateful for food & beverage donations. Please help our staff eat and stay nourished!" - Resident | Lincoln Memorial | Bronx, NY
We started reaching out to hospital directors to coordinate donations and what we discovered was worse than what was in the news at the time. Not only were hospitals dangerously short on COVID-19 supplies, but with cafeterias closed and supply chains disrupted, they were running out of both basic foodservice equipment and meals for their doctors, nurses, and first responders. A Hospital Director in New York quantified it: we can only get 10% of our normal supply. We’re short on COVID needs, we’re short on foodservice equipment, we’re short on food for our staff. This wasn’t just happening in NY—it was a problem across the country.
Our team at mēle quickly got to work and formed a task force to address these problems. We connected hospitals to companies in our network providing vetted COVID-19 supplies. We cold emailed restaurant manufacturers to find alternatives to foodservice equipment shortages at the hospitals. And we began donating mēle—both through #FoundersGive for the NY hospitals where COVID cases were mounting and then directly to hospitals in other states.
We’ve been donating as much mēle as we can. But we wanted to do something bigger—something that would amplify our donation efforts and involve our community. We launched SPONSOR A MĒLE in April. The idea is simple: sponsor a $5 mēle that will go to a doctor, nurse, or first responder on the front lines. For every mēle (meal) sponsored, we give another. Here’s a few more of the many messages we’re receiving from the front lines on why it matters:
“All staff in the COVID ICU are finding little time at all to break—not eating for over 12 hours is rough. Thank you so much for trying to make a difference, every little bit helps. Truly.” - ICU RN | St. Vincent | Toledo, OH
"“Meals and snacks support our morale as we go through something we have never faced before.” - Pediatric Resident | Penn State Hershey Medical | Hershey, PA
“Breaks for nourishment are vital and having a quick nourishing snack is a great boost.” - Critical Care Nurse Practitioner | Mass General Hospital | Boston, MA
This is our reality right now—and it’s the time to act. Although we’re starting to see signs of the curve flattening, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Our inbound volume of requests has gone up, not down. With that, I’m asking for your help. Consider taking 10 seconds today to sponsor a mēle. Over the past few days, we’ve donated to Georgetown University Hospital in D.C., Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and Lincoln Hospital in NY, among others (more to follow). We promise to keep you updated on where your donations are going and who they are helping. Our team can't thank you enough for your support. We’re far from done, so please keep it coming.
Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network
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