For Michael Gantcher ’92 and his family, their Brooklyn neighborhood is more than just a home — it’s an extended family.
So when the COVID-19 shutdown forced his friend Medwin Pang to close the doors of his new-American Asian restaurant Hunger Pang, Gantcher continued to support the business by pre-paying for meals. “Restaurants are a service to the neighborhood, not just a business,” he says.
Then Pang got an email from Operation Feed Brooklyn, an organization that provides meal deliveries from local restaurants to the staff at local hospitals. With hospital cafeterias closed, healthcare workers have been forced to find alternate ways to feed themselves during long and grueling shifts.
A partnership sprang to life: the credit that Gantcher had established at Hunger Pang went to paying for the cost of meals for the hospital staff — and then Gantcher and his family started delivering the food, too. They made their first delivery to SUNY Downstate Medical Center, where they were told that some of the meals would go to the staff of the neonatal unit.
The coronavirus outbreak was already personal for Gantcher’s sons, Billy age 16 and Ben age 12, as their aunt and uncle had contracted — and recovered — from the virus. Delivering meals to hungry healthcare workers was a way to personalize the pandemic for them in a positive way. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to support the people who are taking care of the community,” he says.
A sense of service was instilled in Gantcher growing up, but it was his time at Hobart and William Smith — and particularly the mentorship of Professor Emeritus of Sociology James Spates P’00, P’09, Professor of Sociology Jack Harris P’02, P’06 and former Interim President and Professor Emeritus of Economics Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D. ’12 — that “provided me with a different view of how important service is,” he says.
The Gantchers are now on call, part of a revolving group of volunteers who deliver meals. “New York is doing the best it can,” Gantcher says. “It’s been amazing to see— just like during 9/11 — how New Yorkers come together when it matters.”
In the image above, Michael Gantcher (right) and son Billy (left) deliver meals to hospital staff.