New York City vegan eatery Marty’s V Burger recently launched a program to help feed hospital workers, firefighters, and other frontline personnel working to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in hard-hit NYC. For every two meals customers donate, the eatery will match the donation with one meal—all of which will be delivered to those in need. Marty’s will also match dollar donations, giving $1 for every $2 donated. “The program started as a response to a post about how haggard the emergency room staff has been—how exhausted they were both physically and emotionally. How could we help those who hold the hands of the dying who don’t have time to pack a lunch? It really tugged at my heartstrings, ” Marty’s V Burger owner Marty Krutolow told VegNews. “I was part of the medical community in various ways in my past life (lives) so wanted to help. Also, ambulance crews, FDNY, and NYPD are face-to-face with COVID-19 every day.” 

A former commercial and charter pilot, Krutolow started Marty’s V Burger in 2014 at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival and opened a brick-and-mortar location in Manhattan in 2017, with the message of spreading veganism through his love of food . Marty’s menu features three choices of burger patties—homemade seitan, black bean, and rice; Beyond Burger; or Impossible Burger—prepared with a variety of toppings such as vegan chicken Drumstix, Crabby Patty burgers (and salads), mac and cheeze, animal-style fries, and more.  

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Marty’s V Burger, which has a cult-following in NYC, has experienced a steep and sudden downturn in business and Krutolow looked for ways to both help frontline workers and his own employees. “Some places put up crowdsourcing campaigns but we didn’t want to just ask for money for our business and we couldn’t afford to just give food away,” Krutolow said. “Now it’s all about getting the word out. People are as a whole generous and want to help but don’t know what to do. We give them an opportunity to donate $5 or a burger and mac and cheeze where it’s needed most.” Thus far, Marty’s V Burger has raised more than $400 in donations—some of which came from far outside of NYC—and has matched more than $200 worth of food with Krutolow planning to continue the donation program until COVID-19 is under control.