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Annex Helps YVR Prep Deliver Meals to At-Risk Children & Adults

Annex Helps YVR Prep Deliver Meals to At-Risk Children & Adults

When the government announced the COVID-19 closures in March, schools, preparing to open after spring break, found themselves remaining closed.  The Abbotsford School District, with 33 schools, had breakfast and lunch programs for their students and the New Westminster School District, with 11 schools, provided a lunch program.  Both School Districts recognized their daily breakfast and lunch programs would no longer be available to the at-risk children who attended their schools.  Concerned, they began to explore how these children could continue to receive the much-needed meals.

At the same time, Vancouver non-profit shelters and Singe Room Occupancy residences (SROs) were forced to close their kitchens and were seeking a solution to provide daily meals to their residents while maintaining social distancing to protect them.

Cue YVR Prep, a commissary kitchen, located in Burnaby, with a stated mission “to be an empowering community partner for aspiring food entrepreneurs, providing them with the necessary resources needed to build and sustain successful food businesses which not only benefit the local food system, but local economies as a whole.” 

Prior to the COVID-19 closures, YVR Prep provided a co-share space for 70+ small scale food producers / farmers’ markets / and wholesalers.  The COVID-19 closures resulted in over half of their clients deciding to put their memberships on hold and wait for the dust to settle.  YVR Prep laid off most of its staff. 

Who would have guessed that within nine days they would be bringing all their staff back?

Abbotsford and New Westminster School Districts reached out to YVR Prep to explore the possibility of having YVR Prep’s Smart Harvest Foods catering company deliver lunches to over 500 homes of children in their districts they considered at-risk.  YVR Prep knew preparing the meals would not be an issue but delivering meals to over 500 homes on a daily basis was a whole other story.  YVR Prep proposed delivering a Meal Box to the children’s homes on a weekly basis including nutritious and delicious meals the families could easily put together with the recipes provided.  YVR Prep would need help packing/picking into the food boxes but could use their own drivers for home deliveries.

YVR Prep’s team member, Jason Wong, reached out to Annex Helps, the corporate social responsibility program run by Annex Consulting Group (Annex). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Annex launched the Annex Helps program to provide volunteers to assist essential services companies, not-for-profits and charities with COVID-19 initiatives.

Jason asked Annex Helps if they would be able to assist with recruiting volunteers to prepare the Food Boxes one day a week, up to 4 hours, for the 450 households.  Partnering with Mindfield, a recruitment company specializing in the hospitality, tourism and restaurant industries, the response was incredible, and within days YVR Prep had dozens of applicants! 

By converting their loading bay into a packing/warehouse space and with the help of two fabulous Annex Helps volunteers each day, YVR Prep has been delivering a week’s worth of “Cheap and Cheerful” Meal Box meals, over a 5-day span with 110 drops per day, or 450 per week, to Abbotsford and New Westminster homes of at-risk children and expect to continue to do so until the school year ends.

That is not the end of story.  YVR Prep also worked with 11 Vancouver shelters and SROs to find a solution to providing meals to residents while maintaining social distancing.  Every day, YVR Prep and the Annex Helps volunteers assist with the continuation of a hot-meal program by preparing and delivering 700+ individually portioned and wrapped items to the 11 sites.  Each morning, a hot breakfast and lunch is dropped off and, in the afternoon, a hot dinner is delivered.  Residents eat the meals in their own space, so social distancing is maintained.

These two projects were a great partnership between YVR Prep, Annex Helps, Mindfield, local suppliers (GSS / Sysco / Costco) that assisted by donating food items, and the organizations they worked with to assist in meeting the needs of at-risk school children and the residents of Vancouver’s shelters and SROs.

About Annex

Annex Consulting Group is an IT recruitment and solutions company that provides IT contractors, employees and project teams to clients across North America. Established in 1998, Annex has placed thousands of IT and business professionals for hundreds of clients with an industry-leading 97% customer satisfaction rating.

About Annex Helps

Annex Helps is a volunteer program to help front-line essential services organizations, not-for-profits and charities in their fight against COVID-19. If you represent an organization that needs volunteers, or you wish to donate your time and expertise, please contact annex@annexgroup.com. While Annex’s purpose is to make connections that change lives, the purpose of Annex Helps is to make connections that save lives.

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