During the COVID-19 pandemic, foodservice operations across the country stepped up to provide meals for the most at-risk members of their communities. But these acts weren’t confined to restaurants.
In March, Mission Watch Company (based in Toronto and Montreal), led by Peter Carayiannis and Aron Solomon, made a sizeable donation to a Nova Scotia restaurant in order to feed healthcare workers for a month. Not content to rest on their laurels, the duo teamed up with Matt Salvato of New Jersey-based legal-marketing company NextLevel, to offer continued support to frontline workers.
“We were looking to do something to help the heroes on the frontline of healthcare in this crisis,” says Solomon. “So, we decided to work together to scale that idea.”
The resulting initiative was Sustain the Line, which matches small food businesses able to prepare and deliver free meals to frontline healthcare workers with donors who want to fund the meal.
Donors and small food businesses, such as caterers and restaurants could contact Sustain the Line to be matched. “Once a food provider contacts us, we put them on the site so anyone can reach out to them and donate. It’s the responsibility of the food provider to get the meals in the hands of the healthcare workers,” explains Solomon, adding the easiest method is to pay a lump sum and tell the food provider to provide as many meals as they can for that amount. The provider then delivers the meals and confirms with the supporter.
The trio put up the seed money and Solomon built the Sustain the Line website in Squarespace.
“I built the site in a couple of hours then hit social media to get word out,” says Solomon. “We had a couple hundred people reach out within two hours.”
Participating operators ranged from a chain of vegetarian grills with 37 restaurants to a wine store serving homemade Italian food.
Overall, he says the early response was “super solid, but we understood people were being pulled in so many different directions and were stressed and knew we’d [need a plan] to keep [Sustain the Line] in the spotlight.”
Solomon says his team always thinks big on its business ventures and that carries over to Sustain the Line. “We’d love to see tens of thousands of meals a day being served. We started with the U.S. and Canada and only for frontline healthcare workers,” he says. “We can see expanding to other types of emergency responders and, as for geography, we already have interest from Paris, London, Berlin, Sydney and more. We don’t see this crisis going away anytime soon and as long as there’s a need, we’ll help.”