Hammer Feeds The Frontlines, a Hamilton-based initiative, has been working to make these trying times easier for small-business owners and frontline workers alike.
The initiative started in April and has been a joint effort between Sydney Lawson and Alex, owner of the Andiamo Italian food truck. The idea started after Alex decided to deliver cannoli to a family member and their colleagues in an urgent care centre.
“After seeing pictures of how it brightened their day, we kind of decided to take it a little bit further and see how we can show the frontline staff how much we appreciate their sacrifice,” Sydney says. “But also at the same time be able to support the local restaurant community.”
Sydney, who works in the healthcare industry, also explains how important the initiative has been to her personally.
“I have colleagues in Hamilton, in Toronto…and in specifically in New York who were experiencing the brunt of this pandemic. And just hearing their stories and the sacrifices that they’re making that I didn’t even think of…they have to be living away from their families.”
“Not being able to eat on their breaks because they only have five-minute breaks every twelve hours because they’re so short-staffed. So that for me, I was like okay what can I do with my network and then with Andiamo Italian’s network to really partner on this and get those frontline people fed?”
The initiative collects donations to hire food trucks, which cater meals for frontline workers. Thus far they provided more than 500 meals solely through community donations.
“Originally we were like, okay, let’s just see what the response is and we’ll try our best to get some meals out…and we were so overwhelmed with the response we got. We’d set a goal of $5,000 and we reached it within a week and a half. Then we decided to increase the goal.” They now aim to provide 1,000 meals for frontline staff.
The cause has not gone unappreciated. A nurse from one of the local hospitals writes: “It’s challenging as you imagine to be on the frontline…it’s a scary time. As we get busier…time to shop and prepare food will become less and less so knowing a meal is coming, it’s truly appreciated.” Reading that email, Sydney says, “It made me realize, oh my gosh. This is way bigger than me.”
Donations have come through posts on Facebook and Instagram, and also with the help of some news channels. After reaching out to the media, the initiative was featured on CBC, Global News, and local channels in Hamilton. They’ve even received support from political figures in the community.
“Some of them ended up donating just out of their own pockets…and more importantly, the mayor of Hamilton was one of those people that did that. Just getting their personal support has been great in this initiative.”
Pappa’s Greek On Wheels and Smoke & Candy BBQ are two food trucks who have been working alongside Andiamo’s Italian during this initiative. In order to help feed workers, they’ve lowered the cost of meals per head. “That means everything,” says Sydney, “It really shows that they’re in it for the long run and for the benefit of the community.”