What started as an offer of help was interpreted as a call for help... but either way, people are getting fed, so entrepreneur and philanthropist Mark Brand doesn't mind.
"Interestingly, I was the one offering help to Vancouver food suppliers, understanding the entire industry being shut down would lead to them sitting on the stock," he says of a recent Twitter post titled "OPEN CALL TO FOOD SUPPLIERS IN VANCOUVER."
His organization, A Better Life Foundation, makes around 10,000 meals a week for residents of the DTES and while the budgets aren't huge, Brand wanted to support local suppliers stuck with an overstock. "But people interpreted that as a call for help," he says, "and the outreach has been amazing."
A Better Life was looking for products that could impact one meal for 1,300 or more people—think cases, not handfuls—or restaurants that could create a pantry of soups, stocks and items for our staff to take home during these challenging times instead of donating. Dozens of restaurants reached out offering food and cash, and Benevity began offering to match donations of up to $3,000. "Service people are exceptional," says Brand. "The response has been so galvanizing for our community and it reminds me why I've spent my whole life in it."
At-risk folks are the organization's entire focus during this crisis. Products and donations will go towards meal programming and emergency requests for food, along with keeping a barrier employment program stabilized.
"This is a critical moment to reflect on where we are as a society," says Brand. "Many if not all of the people we serve live in this level of fear, isolation, and uncertainty every day, or much higher. My hope is that we'll come out the other side of this focused on creating safety and opportunity for all of the people in our community. So far, from what I'm seeing, all signs point to yes."