Papa John, Coach Cal, KY Castle team up to feed healthcare workers, 1st responders

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – Some big names in Kentucky are working to put meals together for people helping to keep us well during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The plan is to cook and serve at least 200 meals a day for hospitals and first responders throughout Lexington and Woodford County. (Photo: WKYT/Olivia Russell)

First, he’s known for his pizza, but for the next month John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s Pizza, will be focused on all kinds of food for healthcare workers and first responders.

“There’s nobody more important than the people on the front lines,” explains Schnatter. “EMS, emergency room doctors, ambulances, police officers.”

Schnatter won’t be alone getting workers fed. He has a great team, including Coach John Calipari, and the Kentucky Castle.

“What we’re doing doesn’t register on a scale compared to what the people on the front lines are doing,” says Kentucky Castle co-owner, Matt Dawson. “They’re the heroes here, and the focus should be 100% on them.”

The plan is to cook and serve at least 200 meals a day for hospitals and first responders throughout Lexington and Woodford County.

Organizers say the food isn’t just a meal – it’s a sign of community support, and something everyone can do.

"You can call a nurse, firefighter or policeman you know and say 'How can we help?' We really have to all come together as a nation if we want to push through this," says Dawson.

Schnatter agrees, saying, "This is a tumultuous situation. We need to not fall apart here, we need to fall together with high stress, high anxiety. Emotions are infectious so the key here is to be there for each other.”

“It is the right thing to do,” he says.

Currently, the program plans to feed people through April, but it could be longer, depending on when the response to COVID-19 ends.