Fronting up to the frontline

  • February 28, 2022

How one grassroots organisation is supporting frontline workers one meal at a time

No one has worked harder during the last three years than our frontline workers – and as many continue to push themselves to the limit for the benefit of their communities, one homegrown business is helping them stay nourished and supported. Front Up For The Frontline are committed to goodness and giving back. We spoke to them about the amazing work they do and why they felt compelled to take action this year.

  • Tell us a little bit about your cause and how it got started…

    “Front Up For The FrontLine (FUFFL) started with four women sitting on a veranda in Mullumbimby. A writer, a former paramedic (now nurse), an artist and a caterer. We were frustrated and saddened to witness the conditions frontline staff were working through as the Covid wave hit the Northern NSW community in January 2022. Hospital staff and paramedics working double shifts day into nightshift, relieving fellow staff isolating and ill themselves, sweaty, tired and hungry under full PPE. The most practical thing we could contemplate doing to raise their morale and let them know their community cared was to send food. A GoFundMe was established and three of us set about sourcing and organising donated and purchased meals, snacks and healthy drinks that we could give to our two closest hospitals – the ones taking the brunt of Covid admissions. Within a week we had organised our first delivery, which we drove to the hospitals ourselves.” 

  • How has the response been so far?

    “The staff at Lismore Base Hospital, Byron Central Hospital and now Tweed Heads Hospital have been so incredibly grateful to receive these gifts from their community. When staff have not been home and the hospital cafes and kitchens are shut, a hot meal, a decent coffee and a refreshing smoothie can mean the difference between coming back to do it all again tomorrow or walking off the job in exhaustion. We are getting coffee and snacks to paramedics also, as they are on the road at all hours transporting critically ill patients. We have received lovely photos and messages on our Facebook page, via texts and private messages. The community are also grateful to have an avenue to show their support. We have heard this from donors, businesses and volunteers packing boxes and delivering food.” 

  • How has the pandemic affected your community?

    “Pockets of the Northern Rivers of NSW have a history of being dismissive of mainstream medicine and resistant to vaccinations. This has unfortunately meant that in a small community we have had a large number of Covid-19 infections since the Dec-January 2022 wave. We have lost several very visible members of our community in recent weeks. Having many tourists wanting to visit our region has been problematic, as health orders are often flaunted when people are on holiday. Tourists and residents queued for up to six hours whilst staff were in all weather, administering PCR tests in December and January. Frontline staff are amongst the many in our area struggling to pay the inflated rents, which has also meant that many travel long distances to even get to work. So, the pandemic has actually exposed several other issues within our community.”

  • The Northern Rivers community has been quite generous, do you think this speaks to their own character and strength?

    “At the time of writing, over $30,000 has been donated. As Byron Central and Lismore Base are the hospitals we go to when we or our families are in need, we are all aware of paramedics, nurses, mental health care workers, ICU doctors, hospital cleaners, admin and security who live in our community. As we are a cluster of small towns sprinkled around these hospitals it was obvious to the residents of the Northern Rivers that the health system and the staff supporting it were on their knees. I think any community witnessing the pressures faced by healthcare workers in recent years would respond similarly given the opportunity that a project like Front Up For The FrontLine provided.” 

  • If you could describe the Northern Rivers frontline workers in three words, what would they be…

    “Resilient, gracious, underappreciated.”

  • What are some of the items you’re donating to frontline workers?

    “Meals, snacks, biscuits, muesli bars, fruit, tea, coffee (and equipment to produce coffee), juices and skincare.”

  • What have their reactions been like so far to the donations?

    “Overwhelmingly positive. As they are carers by nature, many initially didn’t even feel they were worthy of the generosity of their community when they knew of other peers elsewhere who were not recipients. But the photos, comments and texts are rolling in, so it’s lovely to know our efforts are like a breath of fresh air in the stifling conditions they’ve been working in for months. They have loved the meals when they are working into the night or leaving at the end of a double shift, the skincare when showering at the after an ICU shift. Coffee, gourmet biscuits and fresh fruit are also very welcome. They have been very vocal of their appreciation of the fruit juices and smoothies we received and delivered. We knew they would appreciate their refreshing, easy flavours and textures.”

  • How has our donation of our nudie smoothies helped, and what do donations like these mean to those on the receiving end?

    “Front Up For The FrontLine know how little time or availability frontline workers have to eat or hydrate properly when they are at work. In order to leave patients to eat or drink they have to remove full PPE and then renew it all once they’ve had a cup of tea, a smoothie or a meal. That is why we approached nudie for a donation of your yummy smoothies. We knew we needed to send in products which were quick to consume, nutritionally sustaining, hydrating and easy to digest. nudie smoothies have hit all those targets and the feedback has been super-positive.” 

  • What is it about nudie that you guys enjoy so much?

    “Apart from being able to say we were “doing a nudie-run” when delivering your probiotic smoothies to frontline workers, we love the cute person on the packaging, the yummy flavours and the nutritional value in a small package of refreshment.”

  • What’s next for Front Up? What do you hope to achieve in the coming months?

    “We’ll continue sending meals, snacks, drinks and self-care products to the main hospitals in our area as long as donations allow, and our small group of volunteers are capable. Support our local paramedics in whichever ways we can. We would like to provide a template for other communities to establish a similar program to support their local healthcare workers. In the next couple of months Front Up For The FrontLine will hopefully transition to becoming an interface for Northern Rivers frontline staff with Health ID to receive donated or discounted products from the business community. We have had some lovely gifts of free entry to local attractions and free tickets and discounted admission to events. These gifts have provided a great morale boost and team-building opportunities.” 

  • To keep up with the amazing work being done by Front Up To The FrontLine, or to donate yourself, please head to their website or find them on social:


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