Friends of West L.A. delivers hot meals and gratitude to nurses, firemen and police on the front lines of COVID-19

By Anthony Torrise

We are in a confusing and conflicting time. But through it all, there are silver linings, like the work of local nonprofit Friends of West L.A.

From schools to emergency rooms, FOWLA has been serving the Westside with love and a dedication to further strengthen community bonds for over five years.

So when COVID-19 began to rip through Los Angeles earlier this spring, FOWLA decided to focus on providing meals for first responders, who work tirelessly to be the first line of support during the ongoing pandemic. The initiative is titled “Responders First.” Twenty local restaurants provide meals that FOWLA board members Joseph Galloway and Lisa Morocco, along with local Jae Wu, personally deliver two to three times per week.

Between the three of them, the deliveries go to first responders on duty at Los Angeles Fire Department Stations 37, 43, 59 and 92, the West Los Angeles Police Division and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Each delivery is met with smiling faces and relief to have a hot meal during another busy shift.

“It’s been a really great effort to support UCLA ER and see their reaction once we give them the food the restaurants make for us,” said Galloway, who has built relationships with local restauranteurs over the years, making Responders First possible.

Firemen, police and nurses not only receive a hot meal and gratitude, but local restaurants hit hard by the pandemic benefit from the business FOWLA provides through their nonprofit service. So far, the group has spent over $160,000 on Responders First, which has provided about 10,000 meals, according to the initiative’s website. The group is currently in “Phase 2” of fundraising, according to the site. Participating restaurants include The Calif. Chicken Cafe (with locations in West LA and Venice), Westwood’s California Fresh and Los Angeles sushi favorite Sweetfin, among many others.

Galloway’s passion for serving West LA would not be possible without those who feel the same at FOWLA. A lot remains uncertain as the fight against the coronavirus continues, but the efforts from Responders First continue to show gratitude.

“The overall message we’re trying to promote is that in this very difficult time where morale is low for police and nurses… the least we could do while they’re trying to take care of people for emergency calls related to COVID-19 is a free meal,” expressed Galloway.

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