Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks hockey continues at Rogers Arena during the pandemic, and so does the Aquilini family's commitment to provide meals to families in need. As of today, the Canucks COVID-19 Community Meal Program has donated more than 500,000 meals to families. The new goal is to deliver 1 million meals before the puck is dropped next season.
The program was initiated by the Aquilini family when the NHL season was paused on March 12, 2020. Supported by Canucks Sports & Entertainment (CSE), the Canucks For Kids Fund (CFKF), the Toptable Group and La Tablée des Chefs, the program has provided hundreds of thousands of meals to families in need through the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, the Salvation Army, and the Strathcona Community Centre in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Many more meals will be produced this spring and summer.
"The pandemic has impacted so many people, including vulnerable families all over Vancouver's Lower Mainland," said Francesco Aquilini, owner of the Canucks. "This program has grown thanks to the passion and dedication of our employees. With no fans at Rogers Arena, we've redirected our facilities to help the community. We're going to feed as many families as possible before next season.
Video: CityNews Reporter David Zura Visits Rogers Arena
The largest partner to date has been La Tablée des Chefs and its Solidarity Kitchens initiative, which has provided invaluable support, which has resulted in the majority of the meals donated to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
"The Canucks community meals have been a gift of both nutrition and time to our clients - both our individual clients and our community agency partners alike," said Cynthia Boulter, Chief Operating Officer at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
"The opportunity to put a nutritious, already prepared dinner in the oven offers a protein rich, delicious meal for households where both time and healthy food are often in short supply. Protein is one of our prime goals in the food support we provide to our clients and community agencies, and as such the meatloaf, chicken and salmon meals have been a huge source of excitement and pride amongst our staff and volunteers as one of our weekly menu items. For our community agency partners, having prepared meals to pop in the oven for their clients and residents has been hugely appreciated, and a wonderful time saver. Thank you!"
For more information on their roles in the community, please visit the Salvation Army at salvationarmy.ca/britishcolumbia, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank at foodbank.bc.ca, the Strathcona Community Centre at strathconacc.ca, and Tableé des Chefs at www.tableedeschefs.org.
La Tablée des Chefs: Since 2002, La Tablée des Chefs has made it possible to feed those dealing with food insecurity by distributing more than 7,000,000 cooked portions and has educated more than 35,000 young people by developing their food autonomy through its various programs.
Examples of organizations that have received Canucks Community meals include:
- Origin Church: Food bank at UBC that helps mostly international students struggling with campus closures
- Quote: "Folks are always happy to have the extras and it's great for them to have a set meal! Clients even were able to use bones from the chicken after to make broth."
- Door Is Open: Drop-in ministry that provides counselling, shelter referrals, and daily lunch
- Marpole Interfaith Food Hub: Community food bank based in South Vancouver
- Inner-City Womens Initiative Society: Drop-in centre and outreach program for women in the Downtown Eastside that offers harm reduction supplies and other supports.
- First United Church: Meal program (and many other supports) in the Downtown Eastside
- Ian Leman Place: Low-income housing located in Chinatown, run by Vancouver Native Housing Society
- McLaren Housing: Housing provider for people living with HIV/AIDS
- DTES Women's Centre: Drop-in centre for women in the Downtown Eastside
- Secord Housing: Residential supportive housing program for women, run by Atira Women's Resource Society
- Grandview Woodland Food Connection: Neighbourhood Food Network in partnership with Britannia Community Centre
- Don't Go Hungry: Community food bank based in New Westminster and Burnaby