New York’s love affair with pizza is now helping workers at the frontline of combating the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The pizza delivery app Slice has collaborated with Slice Out Hunger and Pizza to the Polls in a campaign called Pizza vs. Pandemic. Anyone can donate online, and Slice will tap its network of countless pizzerias in New York (including some of the city’s best pie shops) and other states to deliver pies to healthcare workers. The effort is also aimed at helping small businesses, too.
“The best way we can help at the moment is to drive awareness and help small businesses,” Ilir Sela, CEO and founder of Slice, tells Time Out New York. “When situations like this happen—or not like this because nothing like this has happened before—we knew we had to do something to help.”
As of Thursday afternoon, 1,600 pizzas have been donated—mostly in New York with cheese and pepperoni toppings the most popular. Donations are being sent to more than 10 states (including New Jersey, California, Washington, North Carolina and Pennsylvania) and more are being added, according to a Sliced spokesperson.
The campaign has raised $64,500 so far. While Slice charges its pizzerias about $2 per delivery transaction, all funds from the donation used to purchase pizzas will go toward the businesses. They plan to keep the campaign ongoing and hope to turn it into a more long-term initiative to feed the homeless.
Sela, whose family has operated pizzerias since the 1970’s, approached investors on March 22, including managing partners at GGV Capital, whom agreed to match donations and quickly raised $3,000. Within three hours, more than $5,000 had been raised and the campaign launched, much of it through social media (if you know of workers that could use some food, you can tweet @SliceOutHunger for pizzas to be sent via Slice).
So far, Staten Island University Hospital has received a trio of deliveries with Coney Island Hospital and Bridge the Gap Mission (in Raleigh, North Carolina) receiving the largest orders. The businesses are vetted to follow best practices for handling and delivering the food, according to Slice, which has more than 12,000 pizzerias that use its app.
“New York City has been the focus because of the impact of this pandemic,” says Sela. "We wanted to help those on the frontline as well as small businesses."