Jeff Kaplow (A.B. 2008) owns three Subway restaurants, two in lower Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. And things were going great until COVID-19 hit.
“Business declined 70-80 percent at all of my shops in a matter of days,” Kaplow says. “I’ve been in the business for six years, and a lot of my employees have been with me for four or five of those years. They’re like family to me. And I was worried about what would happen to them.”
While Kaplow was trying to make a plan for his restaurants and his employees, a friend of his called with an idea for a new project—something that could help him keep his stores operating while also supporting those working on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
The project is called “Heroes for Heroes.” Here’s how it works. People donate to a GoFundMe fund to send sandwiches to local hospitals in Manhattan. Then, the sandwiches are made and packaged, along with a cookie and a bag of chips, by teams in the shops before being delivered by Kaplow himself to the hospitals. The deliveries started with the Mount Sinai network of hospitals and have since branched out to other hospitals in the area.
Kaplow and his friend founded the program, organized the funding, and planned the logistics—how they’d get the sandwiches made and delivered exactly when the hospitals needed them. So far the team has made over 12 deliveries with over 3,700 sandwiches. And they’re ready to make more. By the end of April, Kaplow projects to have delivered 6,500 lunches to NYC hospitals.
The program has been covered on CNN and already has a short documentary out about it. Kaplow hopes the coverage inspires others to help however they can, and he is glad to be able to do something to help people risking their health to save lives.
“There’s a bigger picture here,” Kaplow says. “The work that these doctors and nurses are doing is heroic. I see how inspired everyone on the team is, how they’re doing something for the greater good, and I’m inspired, too.”
- Read the dean's message on COVID-19 for more information.