Pittsburgh pizzerias keeping health-care workers fed during the pandemic

Joe & Pie Café & Pizzeria locations plan to donate upwards of 5,000 pizzas to health-care workers through the shop's newly-launched initiative, PGH vs Pandemic. 

Joe & Pie is one of many pizzerias and pizza-based initiatives – locally and nationally – that are stepping up to support their community's frontline workers and neighbors. 

Another campaign is Pizza to the People, a fundraiser started by Steve Mason and Gavin Rapp, which is collecting funds to donate pizzas to Pittsburghers in need. The duo has been raising money through a GoFundMe campaign that started on March 23  and has $1,700. 

The duo has done few in-person deliveries (though Mason says they'd like to do more). Instead, they pre-pay pizzerias for a limited amount of slices or pies. From there, shop owners can pinpoint those in their neighborhoods who could use a slice. Mason notes that the owners of Pizza Taglio have been donating slices to members of the service industry who lost their jobs due to the outbreak. Across the street, Slice on Broadway has been handing out individual slices to anyone in need.

Caliente Pizza & Drafthouse launched an online fundraiser via Meal Train. The fundraiser is set up as a donation to keep the pizzeria's employees paid during the outbreak and for every $10 donated, Caliente delivers pizzas to a local hospital. So far, Caliente has delivered pies to over 18 hospitals and raised $2,200. 

"Doctors, nurses, and all of our hospital workers are putting their lives on the line each and every day fighting this world pandemic," write owners of the local pizza chain, Nick and Angie Bogacz, on their Meal Train page. "They need our help. While Caliente Pizza & Draft House can't provide them with masks, medicine, oxygen, or ventilators, we can provide the food to keep them energized. "

On a national level, the Pittsburgh Steelers have teamed up with a number of organizations – the app Slice, non-profit Slice Out Hunger, and voter delivery service Pizza to the Polls – to form Pizza vs. Pandemic. Its mission is similar to Ussenov's: "Feed care workers, support small biz."

Joe & Pie has currently taken 63 pies to various health-care centers across the city. In addition to hospital donations, the Downtown branch is offering $1 personal-sized pizzas between 2 and 4 p.m. on Thu., April 9 to anyone. The pizzeria has created a way for Pittsburghers to make monetary donations on their website, though Joe & Pie will continue to give away pizzas and support their community with or without extra funds. 

"We're not asking for donations," says Ussenov.  "We started an [initiative], and if you want, please, join us."

To donate and support any of these causes, visit their websites and GoFundMe pages. 

Original Article: Pittsburgh City Paper – Pittsburgh pizzerias keeping health-care workers fed during the pandemic