COVID-19: As new efforts to support frontline workers arise, B.C. nurses share the love by donating to food banks

Plus: B.C. businesses lend support for frontline workers, kids in need

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      With frontline workers gaining recognition as the heroes they are amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local nurses are spreading the love.

      The B.C. Nurses’ Union (BCNU) has made a $10,000 donation to Food Banks BC, an organization dedicated to helping individuals and families dealing with food insecurity throughout the province.

      BCNU president Christine Sorensen said in a release that nurses are grateful for the support they’ve received during the pandemic, and the donation is a way to say thank you.

      “As British Columbians grapple with COVID-19, we are grateful for this opportunity to give back to the communities that have been so incredibly supportive of health-care workers during the pandemic,” Sorensen said. “Food banks have sounded the alarm for several weeks that they need extra help.”

      Until May 17, anyone can donate to the B.C. Nurses’ Union Fund, a permanent endowment fund established through the Vancouver Foundation, in support of Food Banks BC.

      “As we try to help food banks meet an incredible challenge, we encourage all British Columbians who are able, to consider giving at this time,” said Sorensen. “The Fund is a really easy mechanism to show support for nurses, and for nurses to support their communities in BC.”

      B.C. businesses from a breadth of sectors have been finding ways to support health-care workers, first responders, and other essential-services employees, with initiatives like Feed the Frontlines and Hotels for Frontline Workers.

      Here are a few more local efforts:

      Save-On-Foods + the Grocery Foundation

      Save-On Foods has committed $500,000 toward its $1 million fundraising goal aimed at giving kids easier access to school meal supports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

      With an estimated one in five school-aged kids in Canada relying on school-based nutrition programs, school closures mean many Canadian kids are unsure where their next meal will come from.

      Over the last three years, by participating in the Grocery Foundation’s Toonies for Tummies program, Save-On-Foods and its customers have made donations toward more than 250,000 meals made possible through programs delivered by Breakfast Club of Canada.

      Now customers can donate $2 or 500 More Rewards points at the till of any Save-On-Foods, PriceSmart Foods, or Urban Fare store, and the company will match up to a total of $500,000. 

      Donations can be made in-store or online through Breakfast Club of Canada, Backpack Buddies, or I Can for Kids digital platforms.

      Funds raised will be donated to Breakfast Club of Canada, which helps feed more than 243,500 children and youth in 1,809 schools across the country each year. The club will distribute funding and support to schools, community organizations, and other partners to get food supports to kids as quickly and efficiently as possible.

      All money raised locally stays local—meaning people will be helping kids in their own area. 

      Other partners include Food Banks BC, Backpack Buddies, I Can for Kids in Calgary, BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation, the Grocery Foundation, and Food Mesh. 

      Lunches for Healthcare Workers 

      The new campaign is headed by Red Seal chef Bryan Mendiola, owner of Surrey’s Carvery Sandwich Shop, and Craig Turley, creator of the Instagram Take-Out Challenge.

      The program provides free meals to frontline hospital staff in the Fraser Valley region while supporting small restaurants like Pepperoni CaféKin Thai Kitchen + BarCotto Al MareHillcrest BakeryEverbean CaféChutney’s South SurreySheila’s Catering Company, and Training Day Café & Kitchen.

      Mendiola started the program upon hearing stories of hospital workers who were too tired to go grocery shopping or make lunches. He began supplying free soup and bread to workers at Peach Arch Hospital at lunchtime. What started out as a feel-good mission has now become a joint effort to keep small restaurant business alive during the COVID-19 shutdowns. 

      More info is here:

      Gourmet Meal Delivery Program

      With the help of Vancouver developers, Glowbal Restaurant Group is supporting various charities by prepping and delivering nourishing meals to communities in need.

      So far, the hospitality group—which comprises 10 brands, including Italian Kitchen and the newly acquired Five Sails—has made food for Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon and A Loving Spoonful, among others. Behind the program are Colin Bosa (Bosa Properties), Ryan Beedie (Beedie Group), Kevin Li (Access Pacific Enterprises), and Rosano De Cottis (Onni Group).

      Where possible, the meals are being delivered by off-duty volunteer firefighters through Vancouver Firefighter Charities.

      More info is here.

      Home Away From Home

      Element Vancouver Metrotown is opening up free hotel rooms to Fraser Health Authority health-care workers battling the COVID-19 crisis, whether they need to rest between shifts or self-quarantine to keep their family members safe. As part of the program, those staying at the 169-room hotel will be treated to a complimentary meal from Glowbal’s Trattoria Italian Kitchen Burnaby.

      Bosa Properties is sponsoring effort, covering meals and the full cost of all room fees, taxes and on-site parking for hospital staff staying at the hotel. Health-care professionals can book accommodations to self-isolate at the Element Vancouver Metrotown free of charge for up to 14 nights.

      More info is at or 604-568-3696.