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B.C. chef, charity team up to offer virtual ‘holiday parties’ while feeding kids in need

Click to play video 'Restaurant & charity team up to host virtual holiday parties' Restaurant & charity team up to host virtual holiday parties
A charity that helps fight child-hunger and a struggling Vancouver restaurant have partnered up with a unique initiative. Backpack Buddies and Fable Kitchen are hosting virtual holiday parties in the form of online cooking classes. Linda Aylesworth has more on how the innovative idea is tackling three pandemic problems at once – Dec 2, 2020

A Vancouver restaurant and a local charity have come up with a unique partnership that’s keeping both afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project has kept crucial revenue flowing through the doors of Fable Kitchen, while helping Backpack Buddies — a group that helps feed vulnerable kids — keep up with a surge in pandemic demand.

Read more: Survey finds 1 in 4 B.C. non-profits could close due to COVID-19

The initiative is also offering local businesses a very 2020 way to hold their Christmas parties, with social gatherings banned for the foreseeable future.

“Partnering with the Backpack Buddies has definitely saved the business,” said chef Trevor Bird.

“If not, and we didn’t have this, I would probably have to lay off more people which would be brutal.”

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Faced with a huge slump in demand early in the pandemic, Bird came up with the idea of offering virtual cooking classes.

Fable provides home cooks with a box filled with all the necessary ingredients, then runs a live stream demonstrating how to transform it into a delicious meal.

Click to play video 'B.C. charities suffer under COVID pandemic' B.C. charities suffer under COVID pandemic
B.C. charities suffer under COVID pandemic – Sep 15, 2020

It was in one of Fable’s first classes that Bird connected with Backpack Buddies co-founder Emily-ann King, who took one of the courses with her daughter.

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The duo loved it so much King teamed up with Bird to leverage a class into a fundraiser in June that raised enough money to help Backpack Buddies send a bag of food to kids over the summer months for the first time ever.

Now the partnership has set its sight on the Christmas season, with Fable offering the unique, virtual cooking classes as an alternative to holiday parties for local companies.

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Participants can ask questions and socialize with each other while producing a meal they get to eat.

Fable and the charity share the proceeds evenly.

That’s a big boost for Backpack Buddies, whose mandate is to help make sure kids who rely on school lunch programs don’t go hungry over the weekend.

Read more: Charities struggling to survive amid coronavirus, say federal support needed

“This opportunity is just a win-win-win for everybody,” she said.

“Each ticket that’s being purchased is feeding a child for three consecutive weekends, with over 27 meals provided.”

When the pandemic hit in March and schools closed, King said the ‘weekend hunger gap’ suddenly became seven days long.

The group went from delivering food for about 1,000 kids per week in April to more than 2,400 in June.

Even with school back in session, the charity is busier than ever before as families struggle with the ongoing financial pressure of the pandemic.

You can find our more about how to sing up at info@backpackbuddies.ca.