Richmond resident jumpstarts national feeding frontline workers initiative

Many have stepped forward to donate meals to frontline workers and order takeout to support local restaurants, but one Richmond resident has started an initiative to help both at the same time.

Richmond-born Patrisse Chan reached out to her friends Zoey Li and Eunice Wu to create their Feeding Our Frontlines initiative – a platform for local members to help small restaurants while supporting frontline workers simultaneously.

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Chan, who is a student at UBC, told the Richmond News that they focused on the idea of transparency in the initiative where people could see exactly where their donations were going.

“Our initiative allowed people to choose which restaurants their money went to … as opposed to pre-picked, or what I like to call ‘cherry-picked’ restaurants by organizers,” said Chan.

She added that they have a “no preference” option for those who don’t have a specific restaurant in mind, which allocated the funds to facilities or restaurants that have yet to receive or are low in donations from the community.

“When we were talking about this initiative, many people were interested in helping out, but they were not in B.C. at the time, rather they were in Calgary or Toronto,” said Chan, adding that they opened up the discussions even more as out-of-province UBC students showed interest.

They ended up launching across Canada as well.

“Instead of telling people who were outside of B.C. that they couldn’t help during COVID-19, we had an open dialogue of how they could support their local communities the same way we were planning to in ours.”

The idea for Feeding Our Frontlines came to her while she was recording a podcast series to show how restaurants were helping frontline workers during the pandemic, Chan explained.

“In the process of my podcast, I was learning about the sacrifices that (restaurant owners) were making during this time in spite of enduring financial losses,” she said, adding that were making donations when they could while trying to “basically survive.”

“I thought about how we, as community members, could help and spread the word out about what these restaurants are doing.”

Feeding Our Frontlines currently operates in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, where multiple students whom Chan has connected with from UBC reside in.

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