THE MEAL TO HEAL INITIATIVE was created in late March and launched in April 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 crisis in New York City. We watched the red dots on the maps swell, and we heard the sirens rush to help our neighbors. By mid-April, Queens was the borough with the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout NYC, with Elmhurst Hospital at the epicenter.

A half a mile away from the hospital is Woodside, Queens, also known as Little Manila. Filipino businesses—especially restaurants—were hit hard. Most restaurants closed, and the ones that stayed opened layed off many of their staff and learned to adapt to the “new normal.”

Living within the diasporic history that brought care laborers from the Philippines to the United States, we know that Filipino workers are a key demographic doing the essential work that continues to feed, comfort, clean, and heal the city throughout and beyond this crisis

Through these efforts, we not only sought to feed healthcare workers but to also support the brick-and-mortar businesses that make up Little Manila, the heart of the NYC Filipino community. With every delivery, we continue to deepen our relationships with Philippine businesses and healthcare workers, but also grow friendships with  inspiring people who are doing important work.

Our goal is to continue to be of and in the bayanihan spirit; to increase representation of Filipinos and their concerns in the public sphere; to advocate for the wellness and betterment of our Little Manila community; and to bring creativity and abundance to the work we do.

THIS INITIATIVE WAS CREATED BY Little Manila Queens Bayanihan Arts, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns USA North East chapter, and the Filipino American National Historical Society Metro NY Chapter.

Our work has been written about in Business Insider and Public Radio International. For media inquiries, please contact us at

Maria Bustamante
Rocco Cetera
Azrael Dean
Xenia Diente
Berna Ellorin


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Facebook: @Meal2HealNYC