Long-term care workers in London, Ont., were fed a healthy serving of praise on Wednesday, thanks to the efforts of Paramount Fine Foods and other local supporters.
The restaurant’s CEO and founder Mohamad Fakih travelled to the Forest City this week with the aim of delivering “meals of gratitude” to health-care heroes on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meals included piri-piri chicken with rice and a salad, accompanied by soup, a bottle of water and a sweet serving of baklava.
Wednesday’s deliveries began with a preparation that saw Fakih working the kitchen of Paramount’s south London location as early as 5 a.m.
The aim was to provide three retirement homes with at least 200 meals, but Fakih says he and volunteers exceeded their own expectations.
“We ended up with more meals, so we called a shelter in London and we asked if they would like some food for today,” Fakih told Global News.
“Now we have four stops: Three for our heroes and some 50-60 meals for people who are in need.”
The meals are part of the ongoing Long-term Care Frontline Food campaign, which was formed out of a partnership between Paramount and SEIU Healthcare, a union that represents more than 60,000 frontline health-care workers in Ontario.
The campaign works by turning monetary donations into hot meals for health-care workers.
Fakih said the campaign was prompted by the state of long-term care amid the pandemic, a sector that has endured the majority of all COVID-19-related deaths in Ontario.
Looking for a way to help out, Fakih contacted SEIU Healthcare.
“When I spoke to the union they said, ‘look, you can’t help the seniors, but what you can do is to help those heroes’ and send them what I call meals of gratitude,” Fakih said.
“I don’t think we’re going to change their life, but what we want is to change their day, put a smile on their face for the day and leave them with the message that we love you.”
LTC Frontline Food has already delivered more than 10,000 meals in cities across Ontario, but Wednesday marked the first time meals were dropped off in London.
Fakih said the campaign was invited to the city by London lawyer Faisal Joseph, who is a partner with Lerners LLP.
The campaign was soon met with an outpouring of support from Londoners and local businesses such as Armour Shield Roofing who all worked to raise $12,000 for the cause.
Fakih said LTC Frontline Food plans on returning to London and has plenty of deliveries on the horizon.
“What I always planned to do is to continue feeding them until they all get vaccinated and I think we will be doing that.”