Undertaking the most critical and meaningful work during the COVID-19 crisis, frontline healthcare workers are heroes. They work unfathomably long and intense hours and lack the time or outlets to find the food necessary to sustain themselves in order to keep going. At the same time, small businesses are facing a struggle to survive, with small food businesses particularly vulnerable as they tend to have razor-thin margins.
So two corporate leaders decided to help. They launched Sustain the Line – and inspired a movement.
In late March, the founders at Mission Watch Company (Toronto) and Old Road BBQ (Nova Scotia) decided to work together to feed frontline workers for the next month in Nova Scotia. Forty-eight hours later, NextLevel (New Jersey), Conduit Law (Toronto) and Aron Brand (Montreal) joined Mission as founding sponsors and the group decided to immediately expand the idea throughout the US and Canada.
In our ongoing series profiling changemakers helping their communities during the COVID-19 crisis, SEE Change spoke with Aron Solomon, president of Mission Watch Company, to find out more about the initiative, its mission and impact so far.
What was the inspiration behind Sustain the Line; how did the team come together?
Me and my co-founder, Peter Carayiannis and Matt Salvato, who runs NextLevel, a legal marketing company in New Jersey, were looking to do something to help the heroes on the frontline of healthcare in this crisis. We at Mission had made a sizable donation to a restaurant in Nova Scotia to feel healthcare workers for a month, so we decided to work together to scale that idea.
Matt and I are college buddies and best friends from the US from ages ago. Peter and I are also great friends and business partners in Mission Watch Company.
How does Sustain the Line work?
Simple. Both donors and small food businesses (caterers, restaurants) contact us and we match them. Once a food provider contacts us, we put them on the site so anyone can reach out to them and make a donation. It’s the responsibility of the food provider to get the meals in the hands of the healthcare workers.
What were the challenges you faced getting it up and running?
None to get it up and running. We at Mission Watch Company put up the seed money. I built the site in Squarespace in a couple of hours then hit social media to get the word out. We had a couple hundred people reach out within two hours.
What has the impact been so far?
Super solid. But we understand how people are being pulled in so many different direction and are so stressed. We know we’ll have to keep this in the spotlight and we have a plan to do so. To date, two weeks in, our food providers have served 1,200 meals in places such as New York, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Austin.
What is your hope moving forward?
We are starting with the US and Canada and only for frontline healthcare workers. As for geography, we already have interest from Paris, London, Berlin, Sydney, and more. We don’t see this crisis going away anytime soon. As long as there’s a need, we will help.