Marisa Tran has happily added a few extra kilometres to her car during the pandemic as a delivery volunteer for ‘The People’s Pantry.’
“I pick up from someone’s home that’s made a bunch of meals for a family and deliver them as a contact-less delivery to families around the GTA,” she tells CTV News Toronto.
Tran owns a small restaurant in Toronto’s East end. When the pandemic hit, she immediately thought about those who may not have the same access to food as she has.
“Food insecurity was at an all-time high. Some of us have been touched by food inaccessibility, and it’s very clear that food injustice is an ongoing issue,” she says. “A lot of people, like myself, we jumped in and said well, what can we do to make sure that everybody is able to eat nutritious and healthy food.”
From there, a grassroots initiative called The People’s Pantry was created. The mutual aid program is dedicated to safely providing and delivering cooked meals and groceries to those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
“It’s a really cool collective of volunteers and people around the city, just cooking hot meals and making baked goods for people that are in need,” explains Ava Cohen, another volunteer for The People’s Pantry. Cohen started baking for families in need after getting laid off from her job at the start of the pandemic.
“It really makes me feel good when I see that I’ve done something meaningful for people,” she adds.
The People’s Pantry is made possible by around 300 volunteers donating their time, money and cooking skills to the cause.
“Food is love,” Tran says. “Why I own a restaurant is because I love to be able to feed people.”
The People Pantry has currently ‘paused’ their services to strengthen their meal program for the second wave of COVID-19. They have a GoFundMe page to help them keep the initiative going.
“In Toronto, we help each other out. We’re all in this together,” Tran says. “This is my best way of being able to give and show love and show care to my community and to people that are being so impacted by COVID-19 at a disproportionate rate.”
You can find out more about The People’s Pantry here.