Coronavirus Kindness: Low-income seniors sheltering at home get treated to a special restaurant meal

ByJuan Carlos Guerrero KGO logo
Friday, June 12, 2020
Coronavirus Kindness: Low-income seniors sheltering at home get treated to a special restaurant meal
Steve and Selma Tosun, owners of Stamp Bistro Bar & Grill, have been donating hot meals to low-income seniors in San Mateo County who can't leave their home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAN CARLOS, Calif. (KGO) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the typical lunch crowd at Stamp Bistro Bar & Grill in San Carlos, but on this particular afternoon, the kitchen is bustling.

"Honestly, my heart is pumping," said owner Steve Tosun, who is busy boxing up dozens of meals with his wife, Sema.

Near them are two cooks frying up chicken and pork cutlets with a mix of vegetables and potatoes. Even though the restaurant is struggling to survive during the pandemic, it has been donating restaurant-quality meals to senior citizens on the Peninsula.

"In good times everybody helps each other. The importance is in tough times to help," explains Steve Tosun. "We bring good things to those most vulnerable people. It makes me a human being."

It's a message the Tosun's have been following for quite a while. Eight years ago, Sema Tosun launched Fund-A-Need, an organization that helps low-income seniors in San Mateo County.

"We provide food, goods, items, donations and educational seminars to those that need help," she said.

RELATED: Coronavirus Bay Area: Seniors find way to connect despite COVID-19 isolation with music

So when she heard that many people in her community have been feeling isolated because of the stay-at-home order, she wanted to do something extra special for them.

"The seniors are cooped up in their homes. They really can't go anywhere. Giving them a hot meal instead of donating canned food hopefully will warm their hearts and spirits," she said.

So Sema and her husband Steve packed up 66 hot meals and drove them to a Edgewater Isle Senior Apartments, a senior living facility in San Mateo. They are donating more than 200 meals over the next few days.

Resident services coordinator Suyin Nichols greeted them outside the club house, which has been empty since social distancing guidelines were implemented.

"Usually it is very lively with bingo and ping pong. People are having to stay home right now. It is very hard," she said.

RELATED: Coronavirus Kindness: Food program, volunteers produce 5,000 meals per day for San Mateo seniors in need

The complex has been doing what it can to stay connected to the residents. Workers walk the grounds and talk to the residents through their windows or their across their balconies, but those social gatherings are on hold for now.

The Tosuns aren't allowed to hand the meal themselves to the residents because of health department guidelines. Nichols gets that rewarding task.

"It is absolutely a treat for them," said Nichols. "We do get hot meal services delivered from other resources in the county, but to have a restaurant meal is super exciting."

In the meantime, the Tosuns take advantage of their visit to wave hello to some of the residents peeking out of their balconies.

"Nobody else does that except you guys," said one resident. "I love your restaurant and that meal," said another.

For Sema Tosun, the words are gratifying.

"We are all struggling right now in some shape or form," she said. "It just means that much more to me that I can do this during these difficult times."