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Atlanta teen creates service that pays for meals of hospital staff

Grey Cohen says the most challenging part of the stay at home order is missing her friends, but creating this platform has been meaningful to her.

ATLANTA — As many are looking for ways to pitch in and help the community during the coronavirus pandemic, a teen and her family in Atlanta have found a way to bring several parties together. 

Grey Cohen, 16, started The Meal Bridge, a website that allows people to buy meals for hospital staff. The Druid Hills High School sophomore tells 11Alive that she came up with the idea just a few weeks ago.

Cohen said her uncle contacted her mom who works at Emory Hospital because he wanted to know how he could provide food to healthcare workers while supporting local businesses.

“I think we should make it available for the rest of the people in the community,” Cohen said. So she tapped her father who works in advertising to help build a platform.

“He helped me with the logo and the name and the website. We don’t handle any of the money, we don’t have to manage anything, and that’s what’s really great about it. We’re really just getting the information to the public,” Cohen added.

Credit: Grey Cohen
Grey Cohen, 16, started The Meal Bridge, a website that allows people to buy meals for hospital staff.

So how does it work? You go to themealbridge.com, find a hospital, and sign up for a shift or unit, and users can choose which restaurant you want.

Cohen says the most challenging part of the stay at home order is missing her friends, but creating this platform has been meaningful to her.

“It’s hard not seeing my friends, but I also have this opportunity to help my community. Juggling the Meal Bridge with school, it’s been teaching me a lot of valuable lessons,” Cohen said.

 Thanks to a post on her mom’s Nextdoor account, neighbors donated meals for over 60 hospital workers at Emory University Hospital in only 3 days -- and word has continued to spread.

“At first I didn’t think anyone would sign up. We put the info on my mom’s Facebook, but by the end of the day and in that following week, it had spread across the country,” Cohen said. “People from school are asking me how to help, and it's really nice to see everyone coming together and wanting to support this opportunity.”

Cohen says there is now a Meal Bridge branch in Washington D.C., and there are plans to establish branches in Los Angeles and Seattle.

When we asked Cohen about the most rewarding experience since starting Meal Bridge, she reflected on a call from a store manager at Panera.

“I got a call from Panera, and they were told they had to bring in more staffers. They had to take people off leave to fill the orders,” Cohen said.

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