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Druid Hills High sophomore connects struggling restaurants with hungry healthcare workers

Avondale Estates Business COVID-19 Decatur Food Kirkwood Metro ATL Tucker

Druid Hills High sophomore connects struggling restaurants with hungry healthcare workers

Grey Cohen helped to create The Meal Bridge to support healhcare workers and struggling restaurants. Photo provided to Decaturish
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Atlanta, GA – Grey Cohen, a Druid Hills High sophomore, is one of the millions of students studying at home while America waits for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She recently overheard her uncle talking to her mom about ways to support local hospital staff and restaurants. Her mother, Dena, works at Emory. Her uncle, Shawn Janko, is in the banking industry and works with restaurants.

Their conversation gave Grey an idea. What if she could connect people looking to support restaurants and support healthcare workers?

“I thought it was an amazing cause and I really wanted to expand it and make it accessible to everyone in our community, in hopes we could really help out all the hospital workers who are on the front line of this pandemic and also support the local restaurants whose whole industry is suffering because of it,” she said.

Working with her father Mark, who owns a small design firm, they created The Meal Bridge. The idea is to get people to sign up to have meals sent from local restaurants to local hospitals.

Mark said that he sees himself as Grey’s employee.

“I work for Grey,” he said. “Grey is the CEO.”

Her mom got in touch with her contacts at the hospital to arrange to have the food delivered. And Grey suddenly found herself in charge of a fledgling organization. It’s a task she must balance against her responsibilities as a stay-at-home student.

Grey said being out of school is a “big change.”

“I’m at home with my sister all day,” she said. “We can joke around, and get our work done. Having the meal bridge is like a second job. I’m coordinating things all day, getting emails and responding to adults who are used to this sort of thing. I’m just a high schooler and I’m trying to balance it out and find what works best for me. I’m just managing it all. It’s a process.”

It’s a process that has paid off. The site went live Monday. They’ve done about six deliveries, feeding about 60 or 70 people. Using the website, people can buy a meal for as few as five people or as many as 20 people.

Emory Hospital on Clifton Road is the only hospital Meal Bridge is working with currently and the restaurants must be vetted by the hospital, which is a process.

“We’ve had a lot of restaurants calling,” Mark said. “We give those names to the administrator at Emory. She calls to make sure they’re following CDC guidelines as far as food delivery.”

But Mark and Grey want to expand to other hospitals.

“We’re trying to talk to other hospitals to scale this,” Mark said.

Grey is looking to the future. She’s never done this kind of work before, but now she can see a need for it when the coronavirus pandemic is in the rearview mirror.

“I’m hoping after we clear the woods and this whole coronavirus thing ends, we can do more things like this,” Grey said.

To sign up to send healthcare workers a meal, visit The Meal Bridge by clicking here.

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