Marble Cliff's Margaret Kukura partners with restaurants in Feeding the Frontliners Locally

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
Margaret Kukura (left) of Marble Cliff and Sarah Jackson, chef and owner of Cambridge Tea House, load 60 meals to be delivered to health-care workers at Mount Carmel East as part of the Feeding the Frontliners Locally initiative, led by Kukura, on Feb. 4.

A Marble Cliff resident is partnering with local restaurants to show support and appreciation for the service frontline health-care workers are providing to the community.

The project also is designed to support the restaurants.

Kukura has been leading a Feeding the Frontlines Locally initiative in the Grandview Heights and Marble Cliff community since the beginning of the year.

She has been soliciting donations online and using 100% of the money to purchase complete boxed lunches she delivers to health-care workers at central Ohio medical centers, including Nationwide Children's and Riverside hospitals and the Mount Carmel health-care system.

More than $500 was collected in the first few days, and since early January, Grandview and Marble Cliff residents have donated more than $3,500 toward the project, Kukura said.

"I've been able to deliver more than 200 meals to the COVID(-19) critical-care units at the medical centers, thanks to their generosity," she said. "It's not surprising that people in Grandview and Marble Cliff have responded. That's the kind of community we have."

It's important to show frontline health-care workers their dedication is appreciated in any year, but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kukura said.

But her project doesn't benefit only health-care workers, she said.

"Besides showing appreciation to our health-care workers, it's also a way to support our local restaurants who have been going through a tough time the past year and to create a spirit of community engagement," Kukura said.

Bags full of boxed meals from Cambridge Tea House that will be delivered to health-care workers at Mount Carmel East are shown as part of the Feeding the Frontliners Locally initiative.

Each week beginning in January, Kukura has reached out to a different hospital to determine the number of lunches to order and deliver.

She then orders each week's allotment from a different local restaurant, picks up the order and delivers it to the hospital.

The participating restaurants have included the Chocolate Cafe, Brekkie Shack and the Cambridge Tea House.

On Feb. 4, Kukura delivered 60 box lunches from the Cambridge Tea House in Marble Cliff to Mount Carmel East.

"A gesture like this really means so much to our staff members," said Pam Duncan, administrative assistant for patient-care services at Mount Carmel East. "It's nice for them to know that people appreciate the service they're providing. It's been a challenging year."

After taking the meals from Kukura, Duncan placed the box lunches in a break room to make them available to staff working in the hospital's intensive-care and trauma-care units.

"A lot of times they're so busy they don't have time to take a real lunch break, so having a quick meal they can grab and eat is really helpful," Duncan said.

The box lunches included an assortment of sandwiches, including orange chicken salad, curried egg salad and veggies, said Sarah Jackson, chef and co-owner at the Cambridge Tea House.

"We really enjoyed being part of Margaret's project," Jackson said. "We included some fruit along with the sandwich to help make it a complete meal."

Kukura's project also is providing a shot in the arm for restaurants that have been struggling during the pandemic, she said.

Cambridge Tea House's building closed to the public last March after the pandemic hit but was able to continue in-person dining on its patio during the warmer months, Jackson said.

"Once the cold weather came in, we weren't able to have patio seating anymore, and we're limited to orders for curbside carryout," she said. "It's been a struggle day to day."

The Feed the Frontlines Locally is a concept that has spread throughout the United States during the pandemic year, Kukura said.

She said she had learned about the project late last year from a friend who had started a similar initiative in Clintonville.

"After speaking with her, I also wanted to be a part of it," Kukura said. "I felt like it was definitely something the Grandview community would want to get behind."

Kukura said she plans to continue the local initiative "as long as people continue to donate and as long as the pandemic continues."

Contributions may be made via Venmo: @Margaret-Kukura.

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