Editor’s note: This is part of a periodic series called Stepping Up, highlighting moments of compassion, duty and community in uncertain times. Have a story we should tell? Send it via email to newstips@seattletimes.com with the subject “Stepping Up.”

Sketched April 8 and 10, 2020

On a recent sunny morning, college student Jacob McGary picked up 25 boxes of Penang curry at Mark Thai Food Box in the University District and drove to Swedish Medical Center on First Hill. He handed the donated meals to hospital representative Jae Lim, who rushed to bring them to a crew at a mobile COVID-19 testing site in Federal Way — before they got cold.

The delivery was one of several coordinated that day behind the scenes by Ellen Kuwana, a Seattle freelance science writer who is on a mission to feed the local health workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Relying on family friends who volunteer as delivery drivers, contacts in the medical community, a fundraising campaign through social media, and restaurants that take her orders — and sometimes even donate the food — Kuwana estimates she has fed more than 5,000 health workers in 15 clinical sites in just about a month.

It all started with a simple idea: to buy pizza for the UW Virology department volunteers who were working long shifts processing COVID-19 tests, said Kuwana. But when the restaurant she called offered to donate the food, she was so touched that she just kept going. Delivering food is something very nurturing, she said. “It goes back to basic needs. Food is love.”