HOUSTON - A Rice MBA student wanted to help healthcare workers and local restaurants at the same time. Now, her initiative has expanded to other states.
It's called Snacks for Med Staff, but the organization is serving up much more.
Qianwen “Coco” Ma is a Rice MBA student with a focus on marketing and entrepreneurship. She came to the United States a few years ago, but her family remains in China. Her mom works in a hospital in Hangzhou, so early on, Coco heard firsthand of how hard it is for hospital workers
“They were working 24/7. They didn’t really have time to cook for themselves,” she says.
She had the idea for an organization that could help restaurant workers by keeping them employed and medical workers by keeping them fed.
She partnered with classmate Kathy Harcourt to make it happen.
“We thought we were just going to send a couple of meals and spend our own money,” says Harcourt. “Yet as we started to do a couple of deliveries, other people started to hear about it, especially in the MBA program, so people started to give us money.”
The response was so overwhelming that they quickly raised more than $13,000 and created an official non-profit.
“We keep fine-tuning our operation procedures to maximize our dollar donation impact,” explains Ma.
They’ve made adjustments like hiring a local catering company to cut down delivery costs to Houston hospitals.
They've also expanded to four other states — California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York — delivering over 60 packages to 21 different hospitals. The students have also been able to provide vegan and vegetarian options.
“We picked the states based on how many cases there are,” says Ma. “We really want to send the food to where the help is most needed.”
Harcourt adds, “Whether it’s an ICU or we have some molecular labs where they are actually doing a lot of the testing — anything that’s really being strongly affected.”
They're putting their higher learning business and finance lessons to use and are also challenging others to think about how they can make a difference.
“Whether it’s a smile to somebody or an extra dollar to someone who needs it or patience when someone can’t pay their bills, this is a time where it’s going to make a huge impact,” says Harcourt.
The students are also looking forward to their virtual graduation from Rice in May.
They say when the COVID crisis is over, any leftover donations will go to another nonprofit.
To donate or request a hospital delivery, visit https://formedstaff.org/ .