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Martin Richard Foundation joins with Salem nonprofit to provide meals for hospital staff

At Salem Gnu Kitchen, volunteers prepared 350 boxed meals that fed an entire overnight shift at the North Shore Medical Center's Salem campus.
At Salem Gnu Kitchen, volunteers prepared 350 boxed meals that fed an entire overnight shift at the North Shore Medical Center's Salem campus.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Martin Richard Foundation joined with Sailing Heals, a Salem-based nonprofit, to provide boxed meals April 15 for the entire overnight staff treating COVID-19 at North Shore Medical Center’s Salem campus.

The initiative, called “Sailing Heals Meals,” will feed front-line medical workers on the North Shore while supporting local restaurants that are struggling to stay in business now that their diners are encouraged to stay home.

The 350 boxed meals delivered to the hospital were prepared at Salem Gnu Kitchen, a commercial kitchen and culinary learning facility.

The program plans to deliver meals up to twice a week to the overnight workers for the next three or four weeks.

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The kickoff date coincided with One Boston Day, the seventh anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. The day bears a deep meaning to Bill and Denise Richard, the cofounders of the Martin Richard Foundation. Martin, their 8-year-old son, was one of the victims of the 2013 attack.

“During these unprecedented times, we are all looking for ways we can help," said Bill Richard, who is also a board member of Sailing Heals. “The foundation knew we had a unique opportunity to partner with Sailing Heals to create a program that benefits our nonprofits and local businesses, and thanks our health care heroes.”

The foundation now works to invest in community programs that encourage leadership roles for young people while celebrating diversity.

Initial funding for Sailing Heals Meals was provided through a grant from the Martin Richard Foundation. The goal is to attract sponsors so the program can expand to include additional restaurant partners, resulting in a greater impact on hospital staff.

“Today is just the beginning," Richard said. "We hope that we can gain support from other organizations to continue to support the local nonprofits, businesses, and caregivers who need it the most.”

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Sailing Heals decided to become involved so that it can continue to support hospital communities even in the midst of the pandemic. The nonprofit typically offers “healing sails” to people suffering from cancer or other serious illnesses or injuries and their caregivers.

In addition to being “a lifeline to local businesses who have been deeply impacted by this pandemic," Richard said organizers hope the new program will be "a bridge for our partners at Sailing Heals as they repurpose their mission on supporting caregivers with meals rather than a healing day at sea.”

“Part of our mission is helping the caregivers, so we just want to give them a little extra love so we can keep our mission alive in this interim phase,” said Trisha Boisvert, the cofounder and executive director of Sailing Heals.

Laura Fleming, executive director of the North Shore Medical Center, thanked both organizations for their generosity and kindness. “We are so grateful for their support and their message of hope all year long,” Fleming said.