NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Medical workers are putting their lives at risk in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, working non-stop, sometimes without even thinking about a meal.

Chefs around New York City are making sure they are taken care of while they take care of patients, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported Monday.

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Sydney Cohen is a nurse at NYU Langone, experiencing the unimaginable just seven months into her career.

“There’s a lot of anxiety and a lot of fear, but there’s also this big responsibility feeling, like these people’s lives are in our hands,” Cohen said.


Working extra shifts and long days to take care of coronavirus patients is the sole focus of those on the front lines.

“We’re really just work and sleep and work and sleep,” Cohen said.

With little time to think about food.

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But for Tracy Wilk, a chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, food is always top of mind and, and being furloughed, she wanted a way to feed those front line workers.

“These people are putting their lives on the line to save our lives, so if I can bake a cookie and make them happy, okay!” Wilk said.

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Wilk put a call to social media to deliver something “sweet” to the hospital, and Cohen answered.

Wilk said the community donated about $1,500, much more than she needs for ingredients. She plans to give additional funds raised to City Harvest, a local nonprofit for those in New York City who are food insecure.

The chef, safely practicing social distancing, brought baked goods to NYU Langone, and with community donations she has been able to buy more ingredients and deliver to more hospitals around the city.

“With these deliveries I’ve been doing them all contactless, Wilk said. “When I’m close to the hospital I send them a text, they come downstairs. I don’t even go into the lobby. I’ve met everyone outside on the sidewalk or on the street.”

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She calls it hashtag #bakeitforward.

“I think we’re finally seeing the magic and the power of social media,” Wilk said.

Her labor of love comes from her kitchen in her Murray Hill studio apartment.

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But there are restaurants around the city also helping.

Luca DiPietro, founder of Tarallucci E Vino restaurant group, calls his campaign “Feed the Frontlines.”

“We’re approaching about 6,000 meals,” DiPietro said. “We had about $20,000 that came to us the first day and that allowed us to go out and start delivering this food. When we let the hospitals know what we were doing, the demand was immediate.”

Di Pietro said he initially let go of 95 employees when he closed four restaurants due to the coronavirus but was able to bring back about 30 people with this new initiative.

“Being able to keep people employed is incredibly important, and on the other side I feel a need that I see every day I do deliveries. People are appreciating this food because it’s something they need to stay healthy,” DiPietro said.

As the demand grows, other restaurants are getting involved in other boroughs to feed staff at more hospitals.

“We are now serving 13 hospitals in New York City and we have demand of many, many more hospitals requesting food,” DiPietro said.

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Cohen said the movement is really about going above and beyond the call.

“Everyone at my hospital, we appreciate everything people have been donating — food, supplies, even kind words,” Cohen said.

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It’s just further proof that whether it’s a hearty meal or a sweet treat, a little gesture goes a long way.