Photography courtesy of Brett Morell

Nearly 1,000 meals will be delivered to hospital workers treating COVID-19 patients through a meal train started by four East Dallas neighbors.

Neighbor Tam Pham started a meal train during Dallas County’s coronavirus lockdown, but health care workers are facing their greatest challenge yet as hospitalizations surge after the holidays.

Brett Morrell, Lisa Kieran, Susan Rutledge and Karen Hohnstein wanted to help. They revived the meal train in December and have donated more than 450 meals to nurses at Baylor University Medical Center. They are scheduled to donate another 500 meals in the coming weeks for a total of 995.

“One of our contacts at Baylor, she said, ‘You should see their faces when they see me coming with meals. There’s a relief,'” Morell said. “I didn’t expect that word. She said they have one less thing to worry about that day. We’re so removed from it. They’ve got kids of their own, problems with babysitting and schedules. It’s so easy to forget about that.”

The group has raised nearly $13,500, including two $1,000 donations, a $1,300 donation from corporate sponsor Sewell Automotive and an anonymous gift of $4,300.

The money is used to buy meals at local restaurants, such as El Vecino, Hello Dumpling, Maya’s Modern Mediterranean, Brick & Bones, White Rock Alehouse and St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin. Jimmy’s Food Store took it a step further and donated 130 meals.

When the White Rock Alehouse supplier discovered the restaurant was participating in the meal train, he donated food for the meals. Instead of paying the eatery $10 per meal, Morell’s team paid $5, allowing them to save money for more meals.

Each delivery consists of 65 to 150 meals that are given to the first shift, second shift, emergency room and Saturday crew on a rotating schedule.

“We’re feeding them physically and feeding their soul with love and support from the community,” Morell said. “At the same time, we’re supporting our struggling restaurants. It’s given people a way to feel like they’re helping.”

The women hope to continue the meal train until the surge starts to wane, but they can continue only as long as there are donations. Make a donation here.

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