While various first responders are working hard to take care of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, some local organizations have banded together to help take care of them. #FeedTheFrontLine was formed earlier this week to deliver meals to area hospitals and offer a free drive-thru pickup for other local first responders such as emergency medical services and the Charlottesville and Albemarle County fire and police departments. 

The idea was first conceived by Order Up mobile food cart earlier this month. Through community networking, it joined forces with Ruckersville-based The 106, a food catering and food truck company, to launch the initial three days of meal deliveries and drive-thru operations at 394 Hillsdale Drive in Charlottesville. Organizers aim to serve and deliver food Wednesday through Friday each week for as long as they are able during the pandemic. 

They have also created a Facebook group that interested volunteers can join. 

Troy Robinson, a local entrepreneur and media personality who owns Order Up, said Sam’s Club donated food supplies to the cause. 

“As soon as they found out I was doing this, they supplied everything that I needed. Not one single thing had to come out of pocket,” said Robinson, who also is on the Charlottesville Tomorrow Board of Directors. “[The 106] have their own people that donated to them. We all have our own connections.”

Kirk Ishitani, one of the owners of The 106 said that local farms and other companies — including Papa Weaver’s Pork, Farm at South River and Trader Joe’s — have donated supplies or offered discounts. 

“We were just like, ‘Everybody reach out to your resources,’ and we had no idea that the response was going to be that fast,” Robinson said. “So then we added housekeeping. We added the maintenance staff at the hospitals. Now we are adding nursing homes. So, as the donations come in, we’re just putting stuff out there to help people.”

Car rental company Enterprise also joined the team by offering some cars to transport food and some staff members to help operate the drive-thru. 

“We’ve got mass emails sent out through all the police departments, fire departments,” said Culley Baggett, a franchise owner of Order Up.

“The community came behind us really strong on this and it’s all funded from the community and local business owners,” Baggett said. “We plan to try and feed 700 to 1,000 people per day.”

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    Troy Robinson prepares food for the first responder drive-thru event on Wednesday.

    Credit: Mike Kropf / Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Food trucks from The 106 and Order Up provide free meals at a pop up drive-thru for first responders on Wednesday.

    Credit: Mike Kropf / Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Lucas Hobson of Enterprise volunteers at a #FeedTheFrontLine event on Wednesday.

    Credit: Mike Kropf / Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Volunteers for #FeedTheFrontLine prepare freshly cooked food for first responders who drive up to the event.

    Credit: Mike Kropf / Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Volunteer Culley Baggett puts on a fresh pair of gloves while volunteering at a #FeedTheFrontLine event Wednesday.

    Credit: Mike Kropf / Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    An employee from The 106 prepares fresh chili from a food truck.

    Credit: Mike Kropf / Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Enterprise employees help label to-go meals for first responders.