Vanderbilt grads are ‘Feeding the Front Line’

Vanderbilt graduates start nonprofit to support local restaurants while providing meals for healthcare workers.

The+Nashville+branch+of+Feed+the+Front+Line+empowers+local+restaurants+while+keeping+our+healthcare+workers+full.+Photo+courtesy+www.ftflbna.org

The Nashville branch of Feed the Front Line empowers local restaurants while keeping our healthcare workers full. Photo courtesy www.ftflbna.org

Sahanya Bhaktaram, Deputy Life Editor

For many Vanderbilt students living at home, the prospect of quarantine in light of the pandemic  is more of an inconvenience than a tangible threat to their daily standard of living. However, it would be remiss to ignore the thousands of healthcare employees working tirelessly, sacrificing their own livelihoods to do good in the wake of COVID-19. Houston native Ben Schecter (‘18) and his friends chose to go above and beyond to show their gratitude to those on offense.

After seeing similar initiatives throughout the country, they decided on a model which would help struggling local restaurants and serve healthcare workers at the same time. Thus, Feed the Front Line, a non-profit organization which uses funding to buy and donate meals, was born.

“Throughout college I had a long term goal of somehow using my career and interests to help people, and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to truly step up,” Schecter said.

Schecter’s Texas operation soon gained momentum and expanded to a second base located in Nashville. Vanderbilt alumna (‘18) and second-year medical student, Allie Golden, runs the Nashville branch. After the transition to online learning, Golden was unable to continue working in the hospital but felt an extra urge to support the medical community that surrounded her, Golden said.

“It hit really close to home having been doing my clinicals in the hospital and being in the position with healthcare workers,” Golden said. “After living in Nashville for six years now and seeing small businesses struggling after the tornado in addition to COVID-19, this was a great way for me to give back.”

In only a few weeks, Feed the Front Line has been able to reach an impressive amount of people and continues to experience growth.

“In our first three weeks of operating in Texas, we’ve raised $350,000 and delivered around 15,000 meals,”  Schecter said. “In just one week of Nashville operations, we’ve delivered 500 meals and raised over $35,000.”

In addition to their operations in Texas, Nashville and Charlotte, there will soon be bases in Chicago and Atlanta. Schecter attributes the organization’s success to the support he’s received from his friends and the Vanderbilt community.

“I could have never started this without the great people I know from Vanderbilt and Nashville—the school really inspires an attitude of going in and doing something impactful and meaningful,” Schecter said. “Everyone in our Vanderbilt network has been so helpful and generous, which is really a testament to Vanderbilt as a special place.”

Besides making a palpable difference in their communities, their efforts have given Schecter and Golden a sense of purpose during this time of uncertainty—something from which we could all benefit. If you’re looking for a way to participate, spreading awareness about Feed the Front Line and raising money for meals and delivery is a great way to help. To go even further, you can contact the organization at hello@ftfl.org or  through their official website to start a branch in your own community.