Seeming both visibly tired and energized, Tanya Rose takes a step away from the kitchen and catches her breath.
While dozens of businesses across the state are shut down, it’s been three weeks of non-stop work for Rose and her husband Dave, co-owners of Nourish Sequim.
“We’re willing to keep cooking if you keep responding,” Tanya Rose said.
Amid an ever-changing world reeling from the new coronavirus, the Roses are finding silver linings while they reinvent their garden-to-plate, local food-rooted restaurant into meals on wheels.
And while fans of the Sequim eatery can continue to get Nourish’s made-from-scratch food through it’s Dine at Home service, a group of Olympic Medical Center employees are getting the benefit of the locally prepared food thanks to the outpouring of support.
The Sequim couple, in part inspired by a Seattle company’s efforts to help healthcare workers, created a Meals for Medics GoFundMe drive to collect funds for meals for OMC’s staff in the intensive care unit.
The fund that started last week grew past the original $10,000 goal and has now been bumped up to $15,000.
“We’ve been blown away,” Tanya Rose said.
Like a number of other business owners, the Roses have been adapting their plans after Gov. Jay Inslee’s statewide order March 15 to shut down all restaurants — along with bars, entertainment facilities and recreational activities — in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.
“We were seeing a slowdown,” Rose said about the time prior to that Sunday. “My very last customer (that day) asked, “Did you hear what the governor said?’ Then it was, ‘Oh my, this is reality.’”
The Roses already had been planning to shift the business more toward mobile meals. Apart from its dining room at 101 Provence View Lane, Nourish Sequim had in place the Dine at Home program less than 12 months into its first year.
The couple has operated Nourish Sequim since 2013.
Those customers ran the gamut, from retirees to busy professionals to couples with widely different nutritional needs.
Inslee’s order, however, pushed the mobile meal focus to the forefront. As in, within days.
Normally closed Mondays and Tuesdays, the Roses gathered their staff March 17 to figure out Plan A, which consisted of focusing on to-go orders.
By the next day, that plan was scrapped.
“Day by day, everything’s changed,” Tanya Rose said. “We were trying to reinvent the business overnight.”
Part of the problem, she said, was that Nourish Sequim makes meals from scratch. The Roses had to change everything from what foods to prepare and what food to order.
As they worked with a reduced staff, the couple said the shift has helped to keep the business operational — not at “full speed,” but they can keep some staff employed.
Now, a half-dozen Nourish staffers are busy making meals or boxing orders, labeling containers, delivering food and more.
With a stock of food on hand, the Roses began looking at how they could help the community.
Making headlines in the Seattle area was The Herbfarm, whose GoFundMe account had raised more than $93,000 Monday afternoon to cook and deliver meals to healthcare workers at Overlake, Evergreen, Kaiser Permanente, Virginia Mason, UW Medical Center and Swedish hospitals.
Nourish Sequim was already boxing up meals, Tanya Rose said, so they figured it might work on the North Olympic Peninsula, too.
The Roses wanted to help out OMC workers who “are working day and night, putting themselves at risk fighting the toughest battle ever on behalf of our community, not seeing their families, barely having time to eat, and no time to shop or cook (and) need help,” the fundraising page said.
They contacted Julie Black, director of support services/safety officer for OMC, and got the go-ahead to supply the ICU staff with meals.
“Our healthcare workers are doing everything they can to take care of our community during this difficult time – we are working long hours, so having nutritious meals would be awesome,” Black noted on the GoFundMepage. “I know our ICU staff would appreciate this very much – there are about 40 people who work in that unit alone.”
The Roses got some help from 1st Security Bank in setting up a separate account for the donations and then established the GoFundMe page.
By the third day of the fundraising drive, the Roses had enough funds to supply 100 meals. Nourish also got a boost from four local farms —Joy Farm, Chi’s Farm, Johnston Farms and River Run Farm — all of which donated fresh local fruits and greens.
Having established safety measures with OMC staff, Dave Rose made the first meal delivery last Wednesday.
Dave Rose said he received a call from an OMC staffer who wanted to personally thank the Nourish team.
“It’s a morale booster,” he said.
“We realize they are on the front line. This was a way we could jump in and help.”
While Tanya Rose said she’s happy to keep helping the OMC staff, she said there may be other groups in need of meals, too. That’s why she’s keeping an eye daily on the GoFundMe page and Nourish’s social media accounts (facebook.com/nourishsequim, @nourishsequim) to hear if the community wants to see the efforts directed another way.
Until then, Tanya Rose said, they’ll continue to provide meals for OMC’s ICU staff.
“All we want to do is cook,” she said.
Nourish needs volunteers to deliver meals to the hospital. To help, call 360-797-1480 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.