In times of crisis, individuals and organizations show leadership by stepping up to fill a need. As we faced the initial onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, one such leader was Frank Giustra, CEO of the Fiore Group, and founder of The Giustra Foundation.
Frank, a long-time supporter of Streetohome, as well as a founding board member, immediately partnered with Savoury Chef and Streetohome to provide a meal distribution program for seniors who were experiencing the brunt of the virus. “We’re achieving two things – feeding seniors and helping them to self-isolate and avoid venturing out to buy groceries or meals; and helping to sustain employment for those in the hospitality sector that has been hard hit by the crisis,” says Frank.
“The idea came to me in the middle of the night. Vancouver, with its many restaurants and catering companies, had an immense capacity to feed those who were most vulnerable and could benefit from limiting their contact with the greater population.”
Frank describes The Giustra Foundation as having a specific approach – get it done quickly and efficiently.
“The quick action and cooperation from all made this idea come to fruition,” says Lara Dauphinee, Managing Director of the Fiore Group, director of The Giustra Foundation, and a Streetohome Board Member. “With the immediate funding approval from Frank Giustra, and assistance from the city manager’s office and B.C. Housing, we identified vulnerable seniors living in SROs and low-income buildings. We discussed the program concept with Streetohome Chair, John McLernon, and CEO, Rob Turnbull, and within a few days Savoury Chef was delivering meals to the senior’s buildings.”
“Savoury Chef has had a solid track record in providing affordable, nourishing meals for those in need for several years,” says Anna Wallner, President and Co-owner of Savoury Chef. “When people’s food supply is threatened, you can’t wait for many days or weeks for a program to be developed – you have to act quickly. We had the systems in place for this type of meal service and we were able to rapidly scale our operations to meet the need.”
The Giustra Foundation Streetohome COVID-19 Emergency Meal Distribution Initiative provided daily meals to 310 vulnerable seniors living in non-profit housing. Since its start on April 6, 2020, to the end of the program in May, the program delivered 24,780 meals.
“We’ve seen compassion and generosity in our neighbourhoods, our nation and globally throughout this pandemic. After this crisis, I hope we emerge as more empathetic and caring societies,” says Lara.
“A friend once told me that early when a crisis hits, the first thing we do is take care of our family. Then you look after your community, and once it’s okay, you look at the rest of the world,” says Frank. “We knew there would be a lot of pain and that we needed to help in anyway we can.”