East Sac moms raise funds to feed frontline workers
By Jessica Laskey
When COVID-19 simultaneously overloaded the health care system and hobbled the hospitality industry, East Sacramento resident Sheri Graciano put two and two together. Why not do something that would help both overworked health care professionals and local restaurants struggling to stay afloat?
The result is Feeding the Front Line, a GoFundMe page that Graciano created with the goal of raising $1,500 to provide grab-and-go meals for a minimum of 120 people working on the frontlines of the health care system at local hospitals.
“I’m part of an East Sac moms Facebook group and was seeing posts from friends who are nurses and aren’t able to live with their families right now to minimize the spread of the virus,” says Graciano, who attended college in Sacramento in the 1980s and returned to get married 18 years ago. “Someone asked what we could do to help and they said anything is appreciated—but one was pizza. I thought, why not provide meals for the people working so hard by working with area restaurants, being that we’re the farm-to-fork capital of the world?”
Graciano called a friend who knows Lisandro “Chando” Madrigal, owner of Chando’s Tacos, to see if he would be interested in partnering to provide the food. He agreed. Within a week, Feeding the Front Line had raised enough money to provide tacos for 100 people—both day and night shifts of Mercy General Hospital’s emergency department.
A connection via Facebook yielded another partnership, this time with Roxie Deli & Barbeque, which fed the emergency department at Sutter General Hospital. As the donations continued to come in, Graciano increased her goal to $3,000 to include as many workers as possible.
It turned out that great minds think alike. Graciano found out that another East Sac mom, Arica Serpa-Dunlap, was doing similar fundraising on another GoFundMe page—with a goal of $10,000—so the two decided to join forces. Between the two of them, they’ve now fed more than 1,250 essential workers at Mercy General Hospital, Methodist Hospital and medical facilities run by UC Davis and Sutter, as well as at Natomas Fire Station 18, Rock Creek Care Center in Auburn and the U.S. Postal Service.
The restaurant partnerships have also expanded to include Village Express Donuts, Icing on the Cupcake, Milano Pizza, Tank House BBQ and Bar, Kansai Ramen & Sushi House, Ya’ Wanna Cookie, Mezcal Grill, Try Momma Salsa, Beach Hut Deli and Sac City Brews.
“It’s so humbling to see how generous our community is,” says Graciano, who’s volunteered over the years as a member of the Active 20-30 Club and the PTA at both of her kids’ schools. (She and her daughter also recently joined the National Charity League.) As the HR director for Visit Sacramento, Graciano has overseen fundraisers for the Front Street Animal Shelter and many other local nonprofits.
“Seeing how much the moms in East Sac do for the community inspired me to do this,” Graciano says. “It was touching to see that when I started something, that same generosity came out. We have a very special community.”
To donate to Feed the Front Line, visit gofundme.com/f/1yn4dx1kg0.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.