Feeding Frontline Workers, Supporting Small Businesses

A photo of the Feed the Frontlines team on a zoom call
The Feed the Frontlines team shares a message with health-care workers.
A photo of Adair Roberts making a delivery to health-care workers
Adair Roberts, founder of Feed the Frontlines TO, delivers meals to a Toronto hospital.

When Adair Roberts, Com’89, first heard that restaurants would be asked to close their doors in late March, she immediately thought of a friend and restaurant owner in New York and how the COVID-19 crisis would impact his business.  

She then wondered how she could help. As the owner of a Toronto-based consulting firm that works closely with organizations in the health-care sector, the answer came to her quickly.  

Ms. Roberts realized that restaurants and health-care workers faced different challenges, but that one donation could help to support them both. The added pressure the COVID-19 crisis places on health-care professionals means they often don’t have the opportunity to access nutritious meals easily, so Ms. Roberts came up with a plan to deliver high-quality food directly to them. That same day, she donated 40 meals from her friend’s restaurant to frontline workers in a New York hospital.  

After hearing how grateful the emergency department was to receive the meals, Ms. Roberts wanted to expand the idea to help others.  

She says she was amazed at how quickly it all came together when she reached out to three restaurants in her Toronto neighborhood. 

“I said to them that I have no idea if this initiative is going to be small, medium, or large, but I'm going to try it,” says Ms. Roberts. “Do you want to join us? And they said ‘yes.’”  

With that, Feed the Frontlines TO began, raising $3,600 on their Go Fund Me page on its first day. Now, with more than 8,000 meals delivered and donations nearing $250,000, it’s safe to say that this is no small initiative.  

Feed the Frontlines TO is a volunteer-based effort, with more than 15 volunteers working with five restaurants to safely deliver individually packaged meals to frontline health-care workers in Toronto. The initiative is fully funded by donations from individuals and businesses.  

As for what the future holds for Feed the Frontlines, Ms. Roberts says time will tell. “We’re here to serve a need,” Ms. Roberts says. “As long as the state of emergency continues and hospital teams are feeling pressured, we’ll try to continue to fundraise and allow for more and more deliveries.”  

Ms. Roberts has some empowering words for others looking to help their communities. “If you’ve got a good idea – and you work hard – it will take off,” she says. “Just go for it.”