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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Apr. 2, 202011:25 AM EST

Helping feed those fighting on the front lines

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Terrell Hogan has a plan to provide meals to health care workers.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Health care workers who are on the front line of the battle with COVID-19 need to eat. 

Local restaurants need to sell food to stay in business.

Combining those needs, “Feeding Our Healthcare Heroes” is a community project created by Fadi Chakour, an attorney with the Terrell Hogan law firm.

Fadi Chakour

The firm is working with three restaurants that are preparing and delivering boxed meals to doctors, nurses and other staff who work at UF Health Jacksonville and Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside hospitals.

Terrell Hogan is purchasing the meals and donating them to the health care workers.

Chakour was a surgeon before he went to law school and was admitted to the Bar and  is married to a physician at UF Health.

He understands what medical professionals are experiencing as they serve the community during the pandemic.

“The last thing you want to do as a health care provider in times of crisis is worry about what you’re going to eat,” Chakour said.

The restaurants – Clara’s Tidbits, D&G Deli and European Street Cafe – are together providing 50 boxed meals Monday-Friday to the hospitals.

“We’re packing turkey, ham and cheese and vegetarian wraps with a bag of chips and a cookie,” said Gilbert Reshepi, co-owner of D&G Deli at the Blackstone Building Downtown, a few floors below Terrell Hogan’s offices.

Reshepi said that with his dining room closed, the deli depends on pickup orders and deliveries to keep its doors open.

In addition to the boxed lunches for the hospitals. “We’re getting business from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and city workers. They have to be open and they need to eat,” he said.

Clara’s Tidbits in San Marco is preparing boxes with a wrap, a pickle, chips and a cookie.

Manager Stacy Ruff said the restaurant is glad to help and the lunches help make up for losing about half of the restaurant’s daily business since the dining room closed.

Tidbits plans to continue the effort as long as it’s needed.

“A lot of nurses and doctors don’t get a chance to take a break. We’ll be doing this, hopefully, until the virus is gone,” Ruff said.

At European Street Cafe, the project has helped the restaurant transition from full-service to depending on takeout and delivery.

The restaurant closed March 16 and remained shut down for three days.

“We regrouped and decided to give takeout and delivery a try,” said owner Jessica Land.

“We also reduced our hours. We used to be open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and later on weekends. Now we’re open 11 a.m.-7 p.m.”

The transition also meant a change in the staff.

“We don’t have any servers and minimal staff. We’ve got a couple of people in the back and a couple of people in the front,” Land said.

“In my 20 years, I’ve never experienced anything like this. I don’t know what to expect, but we’ve had tremendous support from the community. A lot of people are keeping us going.”

The program is helping people working in hospitals as well. 

Of the 7,000 people who work at UF Health in Northeast Florida, about 4,000 are staffing three shifts seven days a week at the Downtown hospital.

“There’s the hunger piece, but it has a bigger value,” said Anne-Marie Knight, vice president of community engagement and chief diversity officer at UF Health Jacksonville.

“It shows that the community cares – that someone outside our walls took the time to coordinate this. Filling the soul is as important as filling the belly,” she said.

Terrell Hogan wants to recruit other law firms and businesses to join the campaign.

Laura Hack, a paralegal at Terrell Hogan, is coordinating the program.

She said it’s not designed as a competition among law firms and other businesses. It’s a team effort to help provide support for Jacksonville’s front line of defense against the pandemic.

“This is about everybody coming together,” Hack said.

She may be contacted at (904) 910-2401. Visit https://bit.ly/2QRVCo1 for details about how to join the campaign.

“We’re going to do what we can. We’ll get through this,” Chakour said.

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