BANGOR, Maine — For Bangor's Bill Tisdale, the meaning of a meal is so much more than just food on the table. He says he comes from an Italian family, which is why he's spearheading a mission in his city to help two important groups of people during the coronavirus pandemic.
"You show love by giving food," Tisdale chuckled, while speaking about his culture via video chat with NEWS CENTER Maine. "There's nothing better than a home cooked meal -- and even though we can't do that, this is, I think, just a small thing for us to say, 'We got you.'"
That 'small thing' is an initiative Tisdale is leading through his State Farm Insurance agency. For the past week, he has been teaming with local restaurants in the area to provide meals for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tisdale says that every day, the effort seems to be growing.
"(It's) just a lunch to say, 'Hey, we see you,'" Tisdale explained. "Even though we can't be together, we're behind you 100 percent."
The idea has received quite a bit of support on Tisdale's Facebook page, where people share pictures of happy health care workers enjoying a stress-free meal during a stressful and exhausting shift.
"I'm honestly not that well-versed in Facebook, so I've kind of relied on our friends to help share it and get the word out," Tisdale said.
Staff at local restaurants like Harvest Moon, the Orono House of Pizza, Angelo's Pizzeria, and others were excited to get involved with the mission -- especially during a time that has been tough for them, after being required to close their doors.
"We're committed to being here for the public first and foremost," Zach Ricahrdson, a co-owner at Harvest Moon Deli, said. "We're committed to, you know, keeping some sense of normalcy."
"We're just trying to keep spreading the positivity," added Kelly Bazmpa, a co-owner at the Orono House of Pizza. "This is going to end at one point, and we are there for everyone."
That promise of support means a lot to the people who are on the front lines helping to fight COVID-19.
"To know that we have a meal at lunchtime that's already prepared, and the staff don't have to worry about putting together -- it just really makes us feel as though the community's behind us, and they're supporting our efforts," Tammy Violette, the Director Physician Practice Clinical Service at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, explained to NEWS CENTER Maine via video chat.
More than 120 meals have been delivered so far to staff at the Bass Park COVID-19 testing site in Bangor, Northern Light EMMC, and St. Joseph Hospital.
"I'm proud of the fact that we can support our community in this way," Violette said of the work being done at these facilities. "But I'm especially proud of the staff that have shown up every day."
"As the world, we have a purpose," Richardson noted. "We may not have had a purpose for quite a number of years, and we've got something to fight together."
Tisdale says that some people in the community have wanted to get involved, so they are donating money to help him and his team pay for these meals. To contribute and help Tisdale reach his $1,000 goal, you can visit his agency's Facebook fundraiser.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.newscentermaine.com/coronavirus.