NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A local food festival that doubles as a fundraiser for schools has been canceled due to the coronavirus. But that hasn’t stopped organizers from finding a way to give back.

Every May, the Taste of Tribeca brings the community together, all while raising thousands of dollars for two downtown Manhattan schools.

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But now, for the first time in 26 years, the food festival has been called off.

“It became clear that people probably wouldn’t feel comfortable going to an outdoor food festival,” Taste of Tribeca organizer Christine Cole told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon on Tuesday.


Cole said new social distancing rules made it impossible for the festival to go on, and so many of the restaurants that donate food for the festival are now also out of business.

Still, the group quickly realized this could be an opportunity to give back in another way.

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So the group created a GoFundMe page. Thousands of dollars have been raised so far, with all proceeds now going to at least a dozen local restaurants who then are using the donations to cook and deliver meals to healthcare workers at nearly 20 local hospitals.

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Marc Forgione owns two restaurants in Tribeca. He has taken part in several deliveries so far. He said he’s touched, but not surprised the community is stepping up to help local restaurants. Still, he said the most fulfilling part has been giving back to front-line workers.

“They are constantly working and working and it may not sound like a lot, but just a nice heartfelt, different meal that they can eat, as opposed what they’ve been eating every day really just goes a long way for morale. It can help lift spirits,” Forgione said.

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Hundreds of meals have been delivered so far. Danielle Clarke has helped coordinate the ones for staff at NYU Langone Health.

“It has allowed them to continue to work clinically and not have to worry about where they are going to get their next meal and really focus on treating and caring for their patients,” Clarke said.

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The Taste of Tribeca says that’s exactly the goal. The group adds it is working with its corporate donors to provide funds to the schools that usually benefit from the fundraiser. It also hopes to reschedule the festival for next fall.