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BY Dawn Mitchell

NACE Board Member

com·mu·ni·ty /kəˈmyo͞onədē/
noun: a feeling of fellowship with others

Despite Covid-19 restrictions that wiped the calendar clean of all weddings, social and corporate events, two event industry leaders rose to the occasion recently to help their community.

Food For the Frontline started as a one day endeavor that took off, said Lou Marrocco CMP, Visit Delco PA Director of Meetings & Events, and President of Brandywine Events. “It was a conversation with Dom (Domenick Savino CPCE, CEO and General Manager of Drexelbrook Catering) and myself thinking of a way to acknowledge the ‘front line workers’ with a protein enriched meal,” he said.

“Visit Delco PA wanted to be able to recognize and treat Delaware County hospital workers and sponsor the efforts with funds and labor to help offset the production and delivery costs,” Marrocco said.

Nutrition was another motivating factor. “We did a lot of research to the food that is going to the hospitals and while everyone appreciates those donations, it’s very high carb food; it’s pizza, it’s pasta, it’s hoagies,” said Savino, NACE member and Past President. Drexelbrook’s chefs created a protein rich pack…a 40 gram protein based dinner for frontline workers.

In contrast to fast food, Drexelbrook Catering’s gluten free healthy Power Meal includes a lightly seasoned six-ounce pan-seared Julienne boneless breast of chicken topped with blueberry balsamic glaze. It’s served with an ancient grain blend and roasted vegetables. It also includes sealed disposable utensils, a napkin, mini chocolate treat and bottled water. In fact, you can even leave a personal message to a frontline worker.

Drexelbrook is the program administrator for Food for the Frontline.  Orders are placed directly on their website, processed by Program Coordinator Angel Gallo, food is then ordered and prepared by their culinary team.  Next, meals are assembled by Drexelbrook staff and volunteers and delivered by Visit Delco PA staff. Marrocco and Steve Byrne, Executive Director of Visit Delco PA have been volunteering with some of the deliveries along with the Drexelbrook team.

For Easter, Food For the Frontline delivered 700 meals to seven different hospitals in Delaware County, said Savino. And what began as a one-day endeavor morphed into a larger scale program where businesses or individuals can adopt or sponsor a hospital simply by going to the website. Simply click to order a protein pack of quantities 25 on up or a single nutritious meal for $9.50 for delivery the next day to a local hospital, EMT, or first responder.

To date, Food For the Front Lines has donated approximately 5,000 meals from its corporate and individual sponsors.

The response--thankful. Here’s one example:

“Our hearts and bellies are full today thanks to Drexelbrook Catering and Visit Delco PA.  They generously dropped off 140 pre-made and individually packaged meals for our Mercy Fitzgerald staff,” according to an April 17, 2020 Facebook post.

“The Frontline workers are so appreciative of a protein packed, good for you meal” said Savino.  “It is compact, easy to eat and keeps them charged for the long shifts they work.  They often thank you in emails and ask “When are you coming back?” he said.

“When we pull up…we are met with an outpouring of thanks,” said Marrocco. The hospitals have been able to not only feed the doctors and nurses, but also security, housekeeping and administration. “They really do feel the love as they should. Thank God they are there,” he said.

Savino said it's a small way to make a difference to those fighting the battle.

"It is so rewarding to pull up to a hospital and be greeted by the staff we are actually feeding," Savino said. "Tears of joy in some cases can only make us feel so happy that we are truly making a difference in the lives of the people caring for the sick," said Savino.

Marrocco agreed. “It’s a great thing to be a part of,” said Marrocco. And the bonus? “I get to feel like I am back in my catering environment again and love it,” Marrocco said.

“We're so grateful to everyone who has made a donation to Food for the Frontline so far,” said a Drexelbrook representative in a May 14, 2020 post on its Facebook page. “We've gotten so much positive feedback but we wouldn't be here without all of the support and help we've gotten. Thank you all for helping make a difference! Special thank you to Optiv, who donated over 1000 meals!“

To help, visit to donate a protein based meal to local hospitals, EMTs, first responders.