FLORISSANT, Mo. — A local restaurant is making sure first responders don't go hungry while they work on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mann Meats started out as a food truck in January of 2018 and is run by owner Bob Mannecke and his wife Holly.
"I’ve always given to first responders, since we been in business," he said.
The pandemic hit the restaurant industry hard, and Mann Meats ended up initially closing for a couple days.
"When I realized that I can not financially survive, I had no choice but to continue working, with as many safety adjustments as possible within the restaurant," Mannecke said.
With all his food truck events canceled or postponed, he decided to use his time to help others.
In the past week, he estimates Mann Meats has delivered more than 700 meals to police departments, firehouses and hospitals all across the St. Louis area. They've also donated to staff at several nursing homes and other locations.
The deliveries are a mix between half-pound burgers, pulled pork sandwiches and full Brisket meals.
It's just Mannecke and his wife doing the drop offs, since it's hard to stay six feet apart on a bus. They park away from the building, the staff comes to grab the food and the Manneckes never leave the bus.
Giving back isn't a new thing for the restaurant. For the past two years, Mannecke said they've been dropping off whatever food they don't sell or their leftovers from food truck events to local departments. They never expected any recognition.
"Just believed in good karma from doing it," Mannecke said.
Now though, he saw that the need was greater than ever.
"We felt like there was a huge fire burning out there, and my food truck was like a firetruck just sitting there doing nothing. So we started putting it to use doing what we love to do," Mannecke said.
After their customers saw what they were doing, they asked how they could help. So Mannecke set up a donation page on its online website, partnering with nonprofits The Bennett Project and The George Bean Project.
So far, they've received $1,400 in donations to help in their efforts. "That’s going to make a lot more food for us to continue doing this for a while," he said.
But Mannecke said the restaurant hasn't even touched the donations yet.
"Everything we have given, has been funded by sales from the restaurant, because the community support for us has been so amazing."
This Easter Sunday, they delivered about 300 meals. Mannecke said the delivery to Missouri Baptist Medical Center hit close to home because his niece works there.
"Today’s delivery is a little more personable, since my niece is truly, in the front line, with her extended family," Mannecke wrote on Facebook. "They work 12 hour shifts, countless days in a row, and give up so much time away from their families, especially now. We decided that since we can’t spend Easter with our family or her, that we would bring Easter to her and the rest of her extended family."
On Monday morning, Mannecke said he was preparing to head out again for some more deliveries, and he plans to do a few night shift runs because he said they tend to be forgotten.
"We are about to head out today again around lunch time, and give out hundreds more throughout the day," Mannecke said. "These will all be half-pound burgers, but when they are hot, fresh, and good, they are very appreciated."