Catherine Mesly and Jake McGuire were watching the nightly news when a story came on depicting the day in the life of an ICU nurse during COVID-19.
"Cat and I are always talking when we're together," says Jake, "but we just sat there in silence watching what this nurse was going through. Here we were, sitting comfortably in our house, imagining her and hundreds of thousands of health care workers going through this pandemic, living and breathing it. The thought of them working these long hours, then having to make themselves lunch, and figure out how to feed themselves and their families; we felt anxiety for them."
"My first question was 'How can we help feed the nurses here?'" says Catherine. "I've been spending a lot of my time in my kitchen during the isolation period, cooking and baking. One of our neighbours is a nurse and I was chatting with her about how we could bring lunch to the hospital for her team or her unit."
The couple say they are very 'food-focused', and they believe food fuels productivity.
"We believe in a well-balanced diet, and the power that food has to help people be able to work and function," explains Catherine. "Food is the best way we know of to support our front line workers right now."
The couple reached out to a local hospital and were connected with its in-kind department. They were told any donated meals would have to be supplied by a commercial kitchen, so they reached out to Never Enough Thyme, a local catering company, to see if they would help them bring their idea of feeding healthcare workers to life.
"The idea is to provide a really healthy, hearty meal for the nurses," says Catherine. "I come from an events planning background and I've worked with Never Enough Thyme before. They do a really great job of balancing great flavour with healthy, organic, nutritious ingredients." Ordering the boxed lunches from a local caterer has had the added benefit of supporting a small business that has also been affected by the pandemic.
The project has been dubbed Fuel The Superheroes, and if all goes according to plan, 100 boxed meals will be delivered each day for an entire week to front line staff working at a local hospital.
Along with providing the hospital workers with a healthy lunch, the boxes will also contain a personal note to help lift their spirits.
"A hand-written note can go a long way to encourage the workers," says Catherine, "so we're encouraging our community to send their words of encouragement to us, and we'll share them on notes in the boxed lunches to let the hospital workers know the community is behind them." Anyone wanting to share a message can do so on the project's Instagram account @fuelthesuperheroes.
Although the current plan is to deliver food boxes for a week, Jake says they would love to extend the project further. "The only limitation right now is the funding to make it happen."
Donations to Fuel The Superheroes can be made through the project's GoFundMe page. The couple plans on being very transparent about how the money is being used.
"We plan on accounting for every dollar that's spent through our social media platforms," says Jake. They also want to take the community along on the journey as notes are written, food is packaged, and lunches are finally delivered to the hospital.
Fuel the Superheroes Week will take place in late April, which provides enough time to raise funds, order food, and have everything packaged and ready to go. The couple also feels that by that time we could be in the height of the pandemic in this region, and hospital workers will really need the community support. If there are businesses with ideas on how they could partner on the project to provide additional support to the healthcare workers, the couple say they are welcome to contact them.
"Right now we're looking at this for a one week period," says Jake, "however our objective is to work and provide lunches for as long as it's needed." They would also like to see the project grow to include feeding healthcare worker families too.
"They shouldn't have to worry about anything," Jake explains. "They need to sleep when they're done their shifts, and spend time with their families; providing food for them would mean one less thing to worry about."
Both Catherine and Jake are confident the community will step up to help them Fuel The Superheroes. "We see this area as somewhere we want to live for a long time," says Catherine. "We want to raise a family here, we want to continue to work here, so anything we can do to spread some positivity, we're up for it - we could all use that right now!"
Jake agrees. "Fingers crossed we never see another crisis like this. This is the time to help each other out."