SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. — Masks are required. So are temperature checks. Sanitation is a habit. There is no shortage of safety precautions at Rachel Fine’s restaurant.
“I know six people who have died from COVID,” the owner of Gigglewaters in Safety Harbor said Monday afternoon. “We really take COVID seriously.”
Safety is a top priority. Serving is the second.
Feeding people in need is nothing new for Fine. It’s actually becoming her calling card after months of serving lunches during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Weeks ago, when the coronavirus was first gaining major local attention, Fine and her husband, with help from community donations, sent dozens of meals down the street to Mease Countryside hospital to feed first responders during long shifts.
“To have an opportunity to help people felt really good today,” she said at the time.
The giving continued over the following weeks. Gigglewaters fed the homeless, people out of work and more. Then Fine, a mother of two small children, started noticing the fear in the eyes of her teacher friends who were heading back to classrooms.
“I watched them all summer filled with terror as they got ready to go back to their classrooms,” said Fine, whose older child began kindergarten this year. “We just wanted to help.”
Gigglewaters raised enough money to cover the costs of 71 meals – enough to provide lunch for the entire staff of Kings Highway Elementary School. Her friend teaches there.
Fine made the delivery herself earlier this month to a warm reception. She’s calling it her Food For Thought program.
“It’s really fun to walk in like Santa with a million lunches and drop off for teachers,” Fine said. “It’s the best part of my day.”
It was comforting. It’s also become a familiar feeling.
She intends to feed the 98 employees of Safety Harbor Elementary in the next week or so. She has lived in the city for four years since moving to Florida from New York. Giving back to the people in her backyard means a lot.
“I can feed people. That’s what we do at Gigglewaters is help people and feed people. All we can do in times like these are just reach out to people who are around us and say thank you, we and care about you and we’re here," she said.
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