Coronavirus: Fundraiser aims to feed front-line health-care workers, support Hamilton restaurants

Health-care workers at Hamilton's Urgent Care Centre pose with (the remainder of) a donation of cannoli from a local food truck. provided by Sydney Lawson

A new initiative is calling on Hamiltonians to help bring food to front-line health-care workers while simultaneously supporting local restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hammer Feeds the Frontlines was launched this weekend as a joint venture from Sydney Lawson and her partner, Alex Woodley-Balogh, who runs a food truck in Ancaster.

Woodley-Balogh’s business, Andiamo Italian, has seen most of its events for the foreseeable future cancelled. That includes community events like Sew Hungry, the food truck festival held on Ottawa Street every spring.

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Meanwhile, Lawson works in the health-care industry and said she’s been hearing about the challenges faced by her colleagues who work on the front line, both in Canada and the United States — including New York City, where COVID-19 has claimed roughly 14,000 lives since the beginning of March.

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Although the situation in Hamilton isn’t currently as dire as it is in New York, Lawson said the stories she’s heard have spurred her to take action.

“If this gets into our hospitals in Hamilton, what can we do to make the impact potentially a little bit more manageable? And one of the ways that we’ve thought of doing this is by providing free meals to at least keep front-line staff fed throughout the day.”

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The idea came to her after they delivered a few boxes of cannoli to Woodley-Balogh’s mother, who works at the Urgent Care Centre on Main Street West.

“We received some photos from her and her friends,” said Lawson. “And then we kind of realized, we can be doing more here, and that’s where we joined forces to get the ball rolling on this.”

A donation of $15 will buy one complete meal for each front-line health-care worker. That includes the cost of the food, the wages of the restaurant employees, taxes and delivery.

For every 50 meals purchased, the campaign will feature a different Hamilton restaurant.

“That way we’re kind of spreading it out, giving everyone an equal opportunity,” said Lawson.

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They’re aiming to raise $7,500 — which would cover the cost of 500 meals — but Lawson said she hopes they can go beyond that and continue the initiative throughout the pandemic.

So far, they’ve raised more than $2,800, and that number continues to climb.

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