In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, a Kaimuki woman found a way to show appreciation to those on the front lines, while supporting local restaurants struggling from Oahu’s stay-at-home order.
“Let’s face it, Hawaii — this entire state — we run on our bellies! That’s how we love up on each other. We feed each other,” said Erica Dzikowski.
Dzikowski learned about a group called Flag – the front line appreciation group.
“It’s people helping people. Which is exactly what Hawaii is! We help each other. We’re on an island, we have to help each other. What I loved about the concept of FLAG – it’s feeding the front liners. Hospital, EMS workers, fire, transit workers, grocery store workers. People that have to go to work,” she explained.
The grassroots effort began in New Jersey. Multiple FLAG groups have since cropped up in cities across the mainland. Dzikowski started a group on Oahu.
“We just love up on our neighbors, aunties, uncles, friends by feeding them! To me, this was the perfect fit for Hawaii.”
With a small team of volunteers, Oahu FLAG solicits donations through social media and apps like Venmo. One hundred percent of the proceeds goes towards feeding local healthcare workers and first response workers, while patronizing local restaurants.
“It’s not just one restaurant. We’re looking to patronize local restaurants. Let’s face it, they’re hurting so badly right now. With their cut hours, with people not able to dine in. Those types of places are so important they stay in business after COVID-19. Those places can’t disappear,” said Dzikowski.
Since its inception, Oahu FLAG raised about $5,000 through donations. The group recently purchased 100 bento boxes from Fort Street Café. The meals were dropped off to The Queens Medical Center.
“Not many people can afford to feed an entire group of hospital workers. But 5, 10, 20 dollars, they can afford. That’s more than enough. If everybody did that, we could feed the front line for a really long time.”
As long as the outbreak continues, Oahu FLAG vows to continue providing meals to the overworked.
“If you choose to focus on the good things, there’s so much good happening out there. There’s all sorts of groups trying to help in their own way, and that’s beautiful to me.”
Dzikowski says their next meal drop-off is slated for this weekend to Straub Hospital.