WASHINGTON — With thousands of troops and police officers stationed near the U.S. Capitol two weeks after deadly rioting, over 30 restaurants have banded together to feed the men and women on the front lines as a show of appreciation.
The effort began in the days after the violence and looting that took place inside the building on Jan. 6. After two weeks, We, The Pizza Deputy Chief Executive Officer Micheline Mendelsohn said her pizzeria had delivered around 4,000 pizzas to the troops.
"To me, it’s everything," she said Monday. "I think it’s kind of a nice way for us to say thank you.”
Mendelson has helped coordinate the operation by making calls to restaurants and organizing hundreds to thousands of meal deliveries each day.
After pictures showed We, The Pizza being delivered to National Guard members inside the Capitol, she said other restaurants reached out wanting to help.
"I think it’s been so wonderful to call all of these friends that we know and even some we don’t to say, 'Hey, do you want to help feed some people?'" Mendelsohn said.
Gina Chersevani and the staff at Buffalo & Bergen also stepped in to help. After joining the effort, Chersevani told WUSA 9 that she has delivered thousands of bagels to the troops.
Following the mayhem earlier this month, Chersevani said she was even more grateful for their service.
"I feel that these men and women give up their lives for us and for democracy," she said. "They deserve to have a hot meal.”
Inauguration week comes after months of hardship for restaurants. With the food industry still facing pandemic restrictions and financial challenges, Mendelsohn said helping out the troops served as a special way to give back.
"We had so many friends that we had been talking to that were making $400 a day when normally during inauguration they would have been making so much more money," Mendelsohn said. "[The donations] kind of boosted all of our morale because we were all down. For our industry, it is the little boost that we needed.”
Each meal delivered to the troops is paid for by donations from generous customers and friends. Mendelsohn said the meals will keep being provided until the troops head home.
"To be able to say thank you to people who are helping us has been a big thing," she said. "It’s kind of our way to get back into it and come together as a community to thank everybody.”
Anyone interested in donating to the effort can do so by visiting the We, The Pizza website.