Coronavirus: Toronto man vows to continue gathering donations to keep health care workers fed

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WATCH ABOVE: As health care staff work round-the-clock to battle COVID-19 and save lives, a local Toronto man is doing his part to help keep frontline workers going. Miranda Anthistle reports. – Apr 16, 2020

In just 20 days, over 1,200 meals have been donated to frontline health care workers through Feed Our Heroes.

“I’m creating an avenue for everybody else to help and show that they’re here for our frontline health care workers… and to let them know they’re not alone in this pandemic,” said Russell Abelido who launched the initiative in March.

Abelido described his mission as being simple: keeping frontline workers fueled through good food. Dozens of businesses have partnered with him to provide the hot meals, including Paramount Fine Foods which helps oversee many of the deliveries.

There are also companies outside the Greater Toronto Area who have jumped on board to help out. The Big Apple in Colborne, Ont., has baked hundreds of pies for hospital workers to enjoy.

READ MORE: Regina restaurant providing free lunches to healthcare workers, students during pandemic

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“It must be very hard on them. It’s hard on everybody,” said an emotional Sylvie Nagy, who works as The Big Apple’s general manager.

She makes the two-hour roundtrip to Toronto from Colborne three times a week.

“If [baking pies] is all I can help with, then at least I know I’m doing what I can,” she said.

Joining her in the effort to keep frontline workers fed are Jessica and Kristine Tran. They co-founded the healthy food company ‘Nufs Superfood Snacks just before the pandemic hit. Although this timing has thrown their business for a loop, they’re not letting it slow them down.

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“We wanted to make sure our health care teams who are right at those frontlines had those filling healthy snacks to keep themselves going, fighting and pushing us through to the end of this,” explained Jessica.

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The ‘Nufs co-founders along with Abelido both have loved ones working in the health care industry. On Thursday, they dropped off a delivery of more than 100 meals at the Markham Stouffville Hospital.

“It’s very heartwarming and touching that someone has thought of us to bring us this donation, it’s wonderful,” said Erin Landry who is the manager of patient care at the hospital which has seen some of its food vendors reduce their hours or close down because of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Canadians asked to support local restaurants every Wednesday on Canada Takeout Day

“We are really delightful and so thankful for this,” said hospital president and CEO Jo-anne Marr.

Abelido said the support from businesses and those donating through the GoFundMe page has been overwhelming.

When asked how long he plans on running Feed Our Heroes, Abelido said he’ll do it “as long as there’s a need for it, I’ll be doing it.”

The engineer’s next focus is gathering donations for staff working at long-term care homes which have been hit hardest during the pandemic.

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