Baylor graduate founds first clinician meal support program in El Paso

Baylor graduate Vanessa Martinez launched the first clinician meal support program in El Paso, providing meals to health care workers through donations and support from local restaurants. Photo courtesy of Vanessa Martinez

By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer

The Baylor family stretches far and wide and continues to show its support for those around them during uncertain times. Recent Baylor graduate, Vanessa Martinez, has become the founder and director of operations for “Feed the Frontline, El Paso”, the first clinician meal support program in her hometown of El Paso.

Announced Friday, the program will be delivering free meals to local hospital staff with food from restaurants in El Paso. The food will be purchased by donations and will support not only the hospital staff, but restaurant owners as well.

“Often healthcare workers are the ones sacrificing the absolute most and are now the ones facing this problem, daily, working long hours and either getting really stressed or just don’t have time in the environments that they’re working in,” Martinez said.

Cody Nethery, a 2019 Baylor graduate, serves as communications director as he works out of Baytown. Alex Plott, a 2017 Baylor graduate, serves as the program’s accounting consultant out of Washington, D.C.

Martinez initially asked friends, family and mentors to support the program and quickly raised $10,000 which will provide over 1,000 meals to health care professionals in the area.

She said that she was inspired to begin this kind of service as she will remain in her hometown of El Paso for the next foreseeable weeks amid the COVID-19 presence.

“I have friends and family who have parents who are nurses and doctors and so I really wanted to find a unique way to help at this time and it’s almost like were knocking out two birds with one stone,” Martinez said.

The first meal delivery took place April 2 at The Hospitals of Providence East Campus with meals provided by The Holy Grail, a local bistro. Restaurants in El Paso are able to complete an online form if they would like to become a partner in the program.

“It was a complete success,” Martinez said. “It was wonderful on both ends. The restaurant that we first supported was extremely grateful for the initiative that we’ve began. They’re excited to have a recurring business plan with us now that they’ll be able to deliver these meals.”

Alfrank Catucci of the Holy Grail said they prepared and boxed 50 orders.

“It was amazing, well organized,” Catucci said. “We just got the order from them. We ran the orders, boxed the orders, prepared the orders and got them ready to go.”

She also said that the health care workers feel equally as blessed by the organization.

“They’re excited about it and they really hope that the community steps up and supports them in this way as well.” Martinez said.

Martinez earned her undergraduate degree in international business and entrepreneurship at Baylor with a minor in political science in May 2019. She is now in the process of applying to earn a Juris Doctorate degree and a Masters of Business Administration dual degree.

She was also a member of Chamber throughout her time at Baylor and served as Chamber president during her senior year.

Martinez has interned for attorney general Ken Paxton in Austin and also had a fellowship in Houston with Governor Greg Abbott where she worked on policy issues.

She said that Baylor was a transformative experience for her as it enlightened her career goals and life path.

“I’m thankful for everything I learned,” Martinez said. “I took a philanthropy course at Baylor with Dr. Andy Hogue and that gave me really a lot of the knowledge and tools that I’m able to put into place now.”

Those involved with the initiative have been seeking out restaurants and businesses that need the most help and are taking requests to see where they can have the greatest impact.

“We’re matching them with the hospitals and departments that could benefit most from these meals as well,” Martinez said. “In your hometown when you see a small business suffering, that’s the last thing you want to see so if there’s any way that you can be able to provide for a family that has a business, this is like a lifeline for them as well.”