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What You Can Do

We are living through days of tragedy. Many feel anxious, stressed and helpless. Our leaders have failed us, trying to bargain with a virus that knows no rules. But what about us? What can we do?

I lead an organization of 300 staff, most of which have not had the luxury of working from home over the last 400 days. They take the bus, wear their masks over an entire work day in the heat of the kitchen or cold of the freezer, wash their hands over and over, eat their lunch isolated and often go home to multi-generational homes in neighbourhoods hardest hit by COVID-19. We each owe them a standing ovation and to take a stand in making their lived reality better now and after this pandemic ends.

I have tried my best to do right by them. We have pushed the boundaries of what we can afford. We offer 100% covered health/dental benefits, an employee assistance plan, employee discounts, free lunch for warehouse staff and paid sick days. We are helping staff navigate the maze that Ontario's vaccination rollout has become and are trying to get an onsite vaccination clinic approved. And we are always looking to improve.

I do not pretend to know the best way forward, but if you are wondering what you can do, I would like to humbly make a few suggestions:

Be Loud: Use whatever platform you have to demand: (i) redirecting vaccinations to high-risk groups rather than distributing on a per capita basis, (ii) redefining what "essential" workplaces are and (iii) helping essential workplaces operate safely by providing easy access to rapid testing and vaccinations.

Be Generous: Many of us have saved a lot of money during this pandemic because of the lockdowns. There are many organizations doing brave work during this pandemic. Find one that resonates with you and donate as much as you can. At Fresh City, we are huge fans of FoodShare, an innovative food justice organization. You can donate directly or as you shop with Fresh City.

Be Kind: Respect those who expose themselves on a daily basis by observing safety protocols, being patient, and expressing appreciation.

Reach Out: Contact Fresh City's local MPP Robin Martin at robin.martin@pc.ola.org and your local MPP and demand that the Ontario government focuses immediately and relentlessly on vaccinating front-line workers and residents of hotspot neighbourhoods. It is the right thing to do for front-line workers and Ontario as a whole.

Thank you for your ongoing support as we try to create a better life through food.

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