SFU students create organization to help frontline workers

The initiative, developed in partnership with UBC students, delivers meals from local restaurants to healthcare workers

Delivering meals to workers at Suncrest Retirement Community. Photo courtesy of Feeding Our Frontlines via Facebook

Written by: Winona Young, Peak Associate

A group of SFU students have partnered with UBC students to launch a charity organization that provides free meals to healthcare workers. Feeding our Frontlines (FOF) collects donations online to buy meals from local restaurants to be distributed to frontline workers in the Lower Mainland. 

The initiative began in a humble group chat between friends in Vancouver. Now, by partnering with businesses in Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, this initiative aims to empower Canadian businesses nationwide. 

Feeding Our Frontlines was launched in early May by a group of Vancouver-based students, Patrisse Chan (UBC), Eunice Wu (UBC), and Zoey Li (SFU). According to Li, the three friends launched the initiative during the exam season of the Spring 2020 semester. 

The Peak interviewed three students involved with FOF via email: Zoey Li, Brian Chua, and Jeffrey Leung. 

The idea for FOF arose when Chan spoke with a local restaurant owner in her podcast, Rise Regardless. Chan noted that the restaurant owner in question, despite their difficult times of business, still fed frontline workers. 

Li told The Peak, “Patrisse then reached out to Eunice and I with the model of getting donations from the public to buy meals for frontline workers, thereby supporting BOTH the local restaurants from going under and healthcare workers.”

Since FOF’s launch on May 5, by networking with over 40+ restaurants from all over Canada, and working with various businesses in Vancouver, the initiative has seen immense growth. According to Li, as of May 29, FOF has officially raised $10,000 CAD. 

“I really can’t describe the feeling in words but this is just an overwhelming amount of joy!” she said. 

According to the Feeding Our Frontlines site, 100% of the donations go to the local businesses. No commission is taken whatsoever by FOF.

Eateries like Bao Down OV, Steve’s Poké Bar, and Sal y Limon are some of the many BC businesses working with FOF. 

Li acts as their product designer, helping design not only the website, but also the donation process. Whereas Leung, the software developer, works on the website overall. Chua acts as the group’s outreach coordinator, organizing the communications between healthcare facilities and restaurants. 

When asked why they had joined, each student reiterated their desire to help.

As Chua said, “I learned that support for local businesses has been long overdue,” he said. Chua told The Peak of how after constantly seeing negative news stories, FOF felt like a “welcome change” to him. Leung also echoed this sentiment. 

“I joined Feeding Our Frontlines to make a difference in a crisis. Not everyone is lucky enough to be safe at home,” he said. 

Leung also recognized  the disparity among people in terms of workload during the pandemic, particularly with regard to healthcare workers.

“We are creating a platform for sharing kindness, and that is invaluable,” he said. “It inspires me every day to know that I can make a real difference in helping empower frontline and restaurant workers under immensely difficult circumstances.”

Moving forward, Li mentioned how FOF has recently partnered with COVIDHelp Vancouver. Together, FOF would help deliver meals to immunocompromised peoples whose dietary needs cannot be met by local food banks or other means. 

Chua encouraged that any person interested in aiding their initiative to visit their site, www.feedingourfrontlines.ca