Sponsored content jointly presented by TD and A Loving Spoonful.
The changes that took place this year at A Loving Spoonful were swift and unexpected.
In March, when health officials in B.C. implemented measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19, uncertainty around the disease brought with it big challenges for the Vancouver-based charity. The first being: how can they continue their mission – to prepare and deliver free nutritious meals to people living with HIV and co-existing illness – without putting clients at risk?
"We had to completely reassess how we brought meals to our clients who are considered immunocompromised," said A Loving Spoonful Executive Director Lisa Martella. She and her team have been running several marathon phone calls, emails, and video conferences with donors and volunteers for the past few months.
Martella and her team acted fast to procure personal protective equipment for her volunteers. But with equipment and risk-mitigation protocols in place, Martella suddenly found herself with fewer volunteers able to offer their time.
"Volunteers were dealing with their own issues due to COVID-19, so it was understandable," Martella said. "They had to tend to loved ones, jobs, and rent or mortgage – it was such a stressful time for them, too."
Additionally, Martella said other agencies that were struggling to serve different vulnerable populations were also calling for help. Seemingly overnight, A Loving Spoonful's scope expanded to also feed people who were self-isolating due to COVID-19, as well people with disabilities, seniors, single parents, and residents in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
"Did we already have our own challenges? Absolutely," Martella said. "But we are part of a community trying to provide for people's basic needs. And so for me, saying 'no' wasn't an option."
In turn, the community answered back. Through her network, new drivers rose to the occasion, signing on to help deliver meals to her expanded group of clients. Local companies surprised Martella with deliveries of food, juice, toys, and even cosmetics.
TD – a longstanding supporter of A Loving Spoonful – also stepped up. In recognition of Martella's ongoing effort to provide food security for her clients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, in August, the charity received funding through the TD Community Resilience Initiative.
"When we heard about how hard Lisa and her team were working to meet demand, we knew we had to do something," said Andy Cribb, Regional Senior Vice President, TD Pacific Region. "This is a critical time to support charities like A Loving Spoonful who are working tirelessly to assist vulnerable people during a pandemic."
Through the TD Community Resilience Initiative, a total of $150,000 in funding was allocated for selected social service agencies and organizations delivering critical support to vulnerable communities across BC and Yukon.
Demand for social services such as food, shelter, career services, and mental health shows little sign of slowing down as people and families continue to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis.
"The support from TD has been critical and has helped us to be there for our clients," Martella said. "The impact of COVID-19 came fast and furious, but it has been so inspiring to see the community coming together to be there for one another. It's been an amazing journey."
"We are proud to stand with A Loving Spoonful," said Cribb, "as they continue to serve people facing the challenges of today and tomorrow."