Catering business brings back employees to help Lethbridge Food Bank feed 800 children

L.A. Chefs Catering brings back employees to help Lethbridge Food Bank feed 800 children
WATCH ABOVE: As COVID-19 continues to impact many people's livelihoods, a Lethbridge catering company is doing what it can to help feed those in need. Taz Dhaliwal reports on how L.A. Chefs Catering and the Lethbridge Food Bank are combining forces to feed hundreds of local children.

L.A. Chefs Catering and the Lethbridge Food Bank have been teaming up to help feed more than 800 children with sandwiches for the month of June as part of the food bank’s Mindful Munchies lunch program.

“Prior to COVID[-19], we had just launched a campaign called Feed our Kids and we were in discussions with the schools as to providing some meals to the children of the schools, and then COVID-19 hit,” said Marci Stickel the owner of L.A. Chefs Catering.

With the closure of schools, that campaign came to a halt and the catering company reached out to the food bank to find out how they could still help provide food to families who need it the most.

“We’ve received a lot of response from our families. They’ve been grateful for the support,” said Maral Kiani Tari, the executive director of the Lethbridge Food Bank.

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Kiani Tari said the Mindful Munchies program initially was a collaboration between My City Care and the Lethbridge Food Bank that went through the school year, which involved them providing nutritious lunches to different schools in the city.

Read more: Lethbridge lunch program goes mobile after COVID-19 threat closes schools

When the schools closed due to COVID-19, that program temporarily stopped, but they wanted to continue providing those nutritious lunches.

The food bank, My City Care and the Holy Spirit Catholic School Division worked together to take the program to homes across the city to help supplement the nutritional and mental wellness of students.

“There have been various different situations that people have been going through, whether it’s layoffs or loss of jobs, you know, childcare… elimination of child care,” Kiani Tari said. 

Read more: Lethbridge organizations try to help vulnerable people during COVID-19 pandemic

The catering company has been able to bring roughly half of its staff members back to work for this campaign.

“It’s between 30 to 40 [people] that we’ve been able to bring back on the wage subsidy for a variety of purposes, and one of them is helping out with this sandwich program,” Stickel said.
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She added that the company will try to use the wage subsidy for as long as it needs to in order to keep staff.

Ever since the pandemic and the cancellation or postponement of several events, the company has lost much of its revenue.

However, as restrictions continue to ease up and gatherings on a much smaller scale take place, the company is trying to slowly regain its footing.

One staff member said working for a good cause such as this one makes them feel optimistic about the future.

“It is really nice, especially because I am a father of two kids. It is really special for me to know that we are not only back, but we are also helping the community… especially helping kids, because even the staff is very happy,” said Roberto Cano, chef and banquet manager for L.A. Chefs Catering.

“It’s such a great feeling knowing that we can help around the community, how ever way we can,” said Makafui Nyavor, a banquet server and supervisor with L.A. Chefs Catering.

Nyavor went on to say she loves her job and is glad her employer is very proactive when it comes to assisting those less fortunate.

The company says it will continue to work with the food bank and plans to collaborate with Volunteer Lethbridge are also in the works.

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