UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester marked a sweet milestone Thursday, when Table Talk Pies donated its 10,000 pie to health care workers since the start of the state’s Covid-19 crisis in March.
The city’s hometown pie maker dropped off 256 individual-sized pies, including blueberry, chocolate eclair, lemon and other flavors, boosting the total to a whopping 10,000 flaky crust pies.
“It’s our way of saying thank you,” said Table Talk President Harry Kokkinis, who met with UMass Memorial officials outside the hospital as the pies arrived Thursday morning. “These health care workers have been so important to us and to the whole community.”
Giving the pies to the workers in person was especially moving for Kokkinis, whose uncle was one of the hundreds of COVID-19 patients UMass Memorial has treated.
“He passed away from COVID-19, but I know they did everything humanly possible to keep him alive," said Kokkinis, whose grandfather founded Table Talk in Worcester in 1924. "Today I got to thank them for that.”
Dr. Eric Dickson, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care, said the hospital has been hit hard by the pandemic.
On May 1, the hospital had more than 300 patients who had confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. Areas of the hospital that haven’t held patients in more than 25 years were turned into makeshift rooms for those suffering from COVID-19. Staff have been working grueling hours, with some spending more than 80 hours on the clock each week.
UMass Memorial still has close to 100 patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, but Dickson said donations help brighten his staff members’ days.
“It’s been an incredibly stressful couple of months for the staff,” Dickson said. “We try to have food for them whenever possible, and we’re so appreciative of these pies. Donations like this helps them feel loved in the community, and that makes a big difference when you’re putting your life on the line.”
The hospital has received food from Chick-fil-A, drinks from Polar Seltzer, and other donations since the start of the pandemic. But Dickson said Table Talk pies are some of the staff’s favorite foods to pick up on their way into work.
“Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a Table Talk pie,” he said.
Elsewhere in Massachusetts, Table Talk has donated more than 100,000 pies to hospitals, food banks, school lunch programs, and others in need during the pandemic. Pies are also given to first responders every Thursday for ‘Thankful Thursdays’ at the Table Talk store in Worcester.
The company donates pies to food banks and other causes throughout the year. Table Talk brings pies to schools around the state each March 14, also known as Pi Day, to help students celebrate the number pi (3.14). More than 70,000 pies were donated to students this year alone.
Kokkinis said charity has been a pillar of Table Talk since his grandfather started the company.
“One of my grandfather’s purposes of life was to be charitable, so we have always wanted to stay true to the foundation he laid for our company,” Kokkinis said.
Table Talk will continue to bring pies to UMass Memorial for as long as health care workers there need them, Kokkinis said.
“All of the front-line workers and the people at the hospital are the real heroes of the pandemic,” he said. “Donating the pies are just a small way of saying thank you for their hard work, dedication, and courage.”