TARPON SPRINGS — As Florida experiences a sudden surge in positive coronavirus cases, health care workers continue to fight the pandemic on the frontlines as they have every day for the past three-plus months.
Fortunately, while some have put the crisis on the backburner as the state continues to reopen, there are still many residents, business owners and organizations who remain dedicated to helping essential workers any way they can.
On June 12, Seminole Subs and Gyros owners John Petalas and his son, Bobby Petalas, in conjunction with the Foodservice Restaurant Partners Group, delivered 500 lunches to the staff at AdventHealth North Pinellas as a show of appreciation for all their hard work and dedication during the pandemic.
“We represent 1,200 restaurants in Florida, and we’ve reached out to different restaurants to help wherever we can with all the difficulty that’s going on in the world,” FRPG managing partner Louis Kokkinakos said as department heads came down to grab handfuls of the bagged lunches set up on tables in the lobby.
Kokkinakos said in addition to the AdventHealth delivery, FRPG, a national food service buying organization that aligns distributors and manufacturers, recently delivered 180 meals to Tampa General Hospital and made another large donation to Feeding Tampa Bay.
The magnitude of their latest gesture, which included sandwiches prepared at all four Seminole Subs locations in Clearwater and Largo and was the largest FRPG food drop to date, according to Kokkinakos, was not lost on hospital officials.
“We thought since the crisis had slowed down, we weren’t in the forefront of people’s thinking,” AdventHealth North Pinellas president and CEO Jason Dunkel said. “So, this makes us feel so good and I just want the community to know how much this means to us. It’s not just about the sandwiches, it’s about the effort, and we appreciate it at the deepest level.”
Tarpon Springs Mayor Chris Alahouzos, who helped facilitate the delivery, also praised the Petalas family and Kokkinakos for their generosity.
“I’m very, very grateful to Mr. Kokkinakos and Mr. Petalas and his son for doing what we asked them to do, to provide a lunch to the employees of the hospital to show their appreciation for their hard work and dedication not only during the coronavirus crisis, but during everyday life,” Alahouzos said. “The community has been very, very generous and it’s not about the type of food they bring, it’s a way to express their appreciation. That’s all it is.”
According to Kokkinakos, just as the coronavirus hasn’t slowed down, FRPG doesn’t plan on stopping the lunch drops any time soon.
“Our goal is to do these two times a month until the end of the year because these people still need it,” he said. “Maybe now more than ever.”