Restaurants chip in to feed employees at Bethesda ER

nurse donations
Gina Semeraro is a former nurse who has been coordinating food donations for Bethesda’s Suburban Hospital. (Courtesy Gina Semeraro)
food donations
Local restaurants are sending things like shepherd’s pie and sandwiches. (Courtesy Gina Semeraro)
food donations
Some of the restaurants sending food include Caddies on Cordell, SMOKE, Flanagan’s, Olazzo and more. (Courtesy Gina Semeraro)
Semeraro said the food helps the stressed ER workers keep their strength up.
Semeraro said that the donations have been boosting the morale of ER employees. (Courtesy Gina Semeraro)
nurse donations
food donations
food donations
Semeraro said the food helps the stressed ER workers keep their strength up.

Money is tight for small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, but that hasn’t stopped a group of restaurants in Bethesda, Maryland, from donating food to emergency room employees who are on the front lines of the pandemic.

The idea came from Gina Semeraro, who posted on Facebook a couple weeks ago, asking if any restaurants were willing to donate to the emergency room at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where she used to work as a nurse.

Semeraro received a swift and generous response.

“It got to the point where I had a waiting list of people,” she said. “One delivery turned into almost every other day. It’s been great.”

Restaurants have been preparing food for 40 to 50 emergency room employees.

One of those restaurants is Flanagan’s Harp & Fiddle on Cordell Avenue.

“They need to eat to keep healthy to do what they’re doing,” said owner Jenny Nugent. “I can’t imagine what it’s like over there.”

Nugent, like scores of small business owners, is losing thousands of dollars and trying to keep her own business afloat during social distancing measures that have left restaurants virtually shut down.

Still, she has found time to donate to the Suburban Hospital ER several times in the past two weeks.

“We did chicken tenders, French fries, sandwiches, potato chips and shepherd’s pie,” Nugent said. “We are trying to send something hardy like the shepherd’s pie, and also something like a sandwich that they can grab and eat if they need to.”

Other restaurants that have contributed include MASTIHA Artisan Greek Bakery, Olazzo, Chantel’s Bakery, Hanaro Sushi, Caddies On Cordell, Smoke BBQ, Chef Tony’s, City Perch Kitchen + Bar, Guardado’s Restaurant, Clove & Cedar Coffeebar and Lucero’s Pizza.

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And the response to Semeraro’s effort is continuing to grow.

“People who I have never met before are texting and calling me,” Semeraro said.

She said that the donations seem to lift the spirits of the ER employees who are going through a difficult stretch.

“Nurses, doctors, techs and even the housekeepers that work in the ER are so stressed right now,” said Semeraro. “Knowing that it makes such a difference warms my heart for them.”

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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