TORONTO -- Toronto chef Stephanie Lo has been spending most of her time during the pandemic in the kitchen. 

“It allows for me to do what I love,” she told CTV News Toronto. “It allows me to cook, and it’s definitely allowing me to give back and help others.”

The chef and founder of Mama Lo's Bakery and Kitchen has been cooking for those who are unable to source their own meals during this time. 

“Food insecurity is just on the rise, and we’re all in the same boat,” she said. “How can you sit by and not do anything? So this is what I want to do.”

The Toronto-area woman decided she wanted do something special for the holiday season, and is currently preparing to cook and deliver 1,000 Christmas meals to those living in encampments in downtown Toronto.

“It’s Christmas, and I just wanted to do something different for them,” Lo explained. “Our goal is to raise $5,000 and hopefully with that money we can definitely get the turkeys that we need, the other ingredients that we need, to make a traditional turkey for the 1,000 meals.” 

Lo sad she felt compelled to help those forcibly evicted from their homes during the pandemic, noting that she too has suffered financially over the last nine months. 

“I’m not that much further ahead than people downtown. I could easily be down there myself,” she said. 

Until a friend of hers started a GoFundMe page, Lo was paying for the meals out of her own pocket. 

“It’s kind of hard after I pay rent and pay bills and whatnot I’m only left with so many dollars,” she said. “But whatever I can afford I will definitely do.” 


Lo was inspired by ‘Caremongering T.O.,’ a community response group founded by her aunt at the start of the pandemic. 

“What Stephanie is doing is brilliant,” Mita Hans, Lo’s aunt, told CTV News Toronto. “We hope that it in turn inspires others to pick up that baton and do the same.” 

Hans and Lo have delivered some of the meals together, and Lo said the people receiving them have always been “grateful.”

“You can see it on their faces, like wow – you guys have actually taken the time to care about us,” she says. 

Hans adds that a warm meal is not only a nice change for the recipients, many of whom are used to receiving sandwiches, but the nutrition factor is important for those living and sleeping outside and in the elements. 

“Stephanie is bringing a little bit of hope,” she said. “A little moment of what everybody took for granted at some point, the ability to feed themselves, to be able to celebrate a moment and have a hot meal.” 

“We are their voices, so I think with that responsibility that falls on us, I’m just doing my part and helping them in the best way I can,” adds Lo. 

Once the holiday season wraps up, Lo says she hopes to be able to continue doing this kind of work into the new year. 

“This literally has just changed me,” she said. “If we don’t come together now to try and change things, or change the world for the better, what are we doing then. They’re our family.”