WESTERN MASS. – When Covid-19 hit Western Mass., Suze Goldman knew she had to do something to help healthcare workers on the front lines who were working with Covid patients at their own risk. Goldman, a former president of the Jewish Federation of Western Mass. and a supporter of Rachel’s Table, the Federation’s hunger rescue and relief program came up with the initiative “Feeding the Front Lines” which provided essential health care workers with meals from local restaurants throughout Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin County. Through the initiative, Goldman sold 450 face masks for the benefit of Rachel’s Table, with the funds raised paying for the healthy lunches and dinners that were delivered to nursing homes and local hospitals like Mercy Medical Center, Jewish Geriatric Services-Lifecare, Reeds Landing, Governor’s Center and others. Sarah Maniaci, associate director of Rachel’s Table connected with Bobby Barkett, owner of The Kitchen, a restaurant in Longmeadow, who provided the sandwiches, chips, and fruit and distributed the meals. Zach Schwartz of Fusion Signs joined the effort by donating a percentage of his signs sold supporting our heroes to Rachel’s Table. The effort provided meals for the state police, firefighters and first responders in Franklin County, as well. Jodi Falk, director of Rachel’s Table coordinated bringing healthy lunches from Subway and Antonio’s to healthcare workers at Poets Seat Health Care Center, Charlene Manor and others. With funds raised including the generous donations from many supporters, approximately 900 meals were provided to workers on the front lines. Next, the initiative turned to essential health care facility and nursing home staffers and more funds were raised to produce gift bags containing gift cards for groceries at Stop & Shop. Judy Yaffe, a veteran Rachel’s Table board member coordinated efforts to deliver gift cards to area agencies. Shown below, Suze Goldman, right, delivering Rachel’s Table’s first batch of grocery gift cards as a token of appreciation to the health care team at Care One in East Longmeadow on July 22. Since then, grocery gift cards have been bestowed upon essential health care workers at several other healthcare centers and nursing homes in Hampden and Hampshire Country.
“It became a multi-pronged initiative that was just terrific,” Goldman said. “Everyone was so happy to contribute. It was the community