After Hurricane Sandy devastated Long Island in 2012, Megan Kleven, owner of Mama Soup, decided to help feed those in need with her Hurricane SOUPER Relief Team. She kept the doors of the Mineola-based deli open to let people charge their devices and keep her employees working.
Now, she decided to revitalize those efforts to feed frontline workers and keep her business running during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Ninety-nine percent of our business was taken away” during the pandemic, Kleven, of Franklin Square explained, noting that her restaurant is in a business district, surrounded by doctors’ and lawyers’ offices. “So, we were trying to drum up business again.”
She worked with Mike Mollish, owner of Precision Sounds Entertainment, to organize a second light show on their block on May 2 to raise money for the Relief Team’s efforts. Funds collected from that event helped feed 80 police officers from the Fifth Precinct on May 8, and 30 people at North Shore University Hospital’s Radiology Department.
Additionally, Kleven used funds from the light show, her own SOUPER relief efforts and a donation from Queens-based Skaggs-Walsh to feed another 500 workers at NYU Winthrop Hospital on May 11, when the director of external affairs told her that food donations provide doctors and nurses “‘with a sense of normalcy.’”
“The effort as a whole has just been positive,” Kleven said, noting that the relief program, and the restaurant’s curbside pickup program, help keep her staff employed.
“Our employees are on the frontlines every day,” Kleven said, adding, “we’re doing all of this to tread water” and stay open.
“No matter what the small businesses are doing, they’re still at risk of losing everything,” she explained. “That’s what we’re experiencing.”