Each morning for almost two weeks, Benny Diasparra and his wife Meaghan have been opening up shop at 5:30 a.m. at their business, Nina’s Deli and Caterers.
The East Meadow catering company did not take much of a blow from the pandemic because the deli is not dine-in so the closure of businesses did not impede its service.
“Me and my wife run this business together so we’re blessed we’re able to continue operating,” he said. To keep customers safe from the virus, all orders were made cashless and converted to curbside or doorstop delivery to limit contact. Otherwise, business was scheduled to continue as usual.
Then, two weeks ago, the staff at Nina’s Deli prepared an order for a party that ended up having to cancel last minute. All the food was already prepared, so Diasparra wanted to donate as a debt of gratitude to any group of workers at the frontlines of the pandemic.
He reached out to a family friend, who connected him with the Bellmore-Merrick Emergency Medical Service group. “It just started to snowball from there,” Diasparra said.
Diasparra explained that he was overwhelmed and touched by posts on social media from health care workers and emergency personnel who were working all night, exposing themselves to the virus, to keep others safe.
“While everyone gets to watch Netflix and hang out and get more time with their kids, these people are in the worst, most stressful time of their lives,” he said. “This was the least we could do.”
At first, Nina’s Deli foot the bill for more orders that Diasparra donated to hospitals, fire departments, police precincts and other emergency services. Then, as he began sharing what he was doing on social media, friends and business owners started reaching out to ask if they could help.
Jimmy Luca, who runs Executive Auto Collision, was the first business that sent Nina’s Deli a donation to fund its next gift. Gradually, more and more East Meadow businesses and residents began sending donations and now Nina’s Deli sends out as many as three different orders a day.
Nina’s Deli has since catered lunch for places as local as East Meadow’s Nassau University Medical Center and as far as the 71st Police Precinct in Manhattan, where an East Meadow resident works and is taking the food.
In a photo shared on Facebook, Beraliza Mendoza Pepanio, a nurse from North Shore University Hospital Manhasset, thanked Diasparra and Nina’s Deli and wrote, “[I’m] grateful to you and your community for thinking of us health care workers during this pandemic. We appreciate your kindness!”