Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Raptors NBA basketball franchise and Toronto Maple Leafs NHL ice hockey team, has been converted into a large-scale kitchen to provide meals for frontline workers and their families.
It comes as Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), which owns the arena (pictured), the two teams and other sports properties in the Canadian city including Major League Soccer franchise Toronto FC, looks to prepare as many as 10,000 meals a day.
MLSE and a team of dedicated partners have teamed up to create the large-scale meal programme, which will operate out of Scotiabank Arena. MLSE will be joined by founding partners Scotiabank, Tangerine Bank, Bell Canada and Rogers Communications.
MLSE chief executive Michael Friisdahl said: “Scotiabank Arena normally serves as a gathering place for fans to be entertained and cheer on their teams, but today, as the world deals with the overwhelming impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our arena will serve as a place for people to come together and support our community when it is most in need.
“In a time of crisis like we are experiencing, many different needs emerge, and we saw this as a chance to use our facilities and engage our people to serve our community. We are grateful to MLSE’s employees, our teams through the Team Toronto Fund and the Maple Leafs Alumni for their donations and generous partners for helping answer the call and providing the resources needed to fill an important need at this critical time.”
The arena has been transformed into Toronto’s largest kitchen. Its numerous food preparation facilities and the arena floor are being used to prepare and assemble the meal packages, while MLSE chefs and food and beverage staff, along with other employees, will work on the programme as professional sports remain suspended.
Canadian food rescue organisation Second Harvest and other local suppliers and sponsors are providing fresh ingredients to the MLSE team on a daily basis. Chefs will then turn these supplies into meals suitable for a variety of dietary needs. Meals will then be labelled before being readied for delivery five days a week.
English Premier League football club Crystal Palace has launched a new initiative that will result in its chefs creating meals for frontline NHS staff, families and vulnerable people in south London through a partnership with City Harvest London and the Palace for Life Foundation.
As part of the initiative, chefs are preparing and packaging up to 900 meals a week at Selhurst Park’s kitchens. The meals are then collected each day and distributed by City Harvest vans. Chefs will follow the strictest hygiene and social distancing measures when preparing the meals.
Meals will be delivered to frontline workers, elderly and vulnerable people who are unable to leave home, families facing food poverty, and homeless people. The programme is being funded by Palace and individual shareholders, who will be covering the costs of ingredients, meal preparation and packaging. City Harvest London is covering distribution costs.
Palace said the initiative will run for “as long as possible and practical” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins Major League Baseball team, will host a weekly drive-through food distribution in partnership with Farm Share.
The initiative will begin on Wednesday, April 29 and forms part of the Home Plate Meals Relief Fund. The weekly distributions will take place every Wednesday from 1pm on the east side of Marlins Park. As part of the programme, around 500 families will receive fresh meals and/or non-perishable items.
The Miami Marlins Foundation is also partnering with Performance Kitchen to support families in need from Allapattah, Liberty City, Little Havana and Overtown. The Home Plate Meals Relief Fund will see 1,700 meal coupons distributed to local children, seniors and impacted working families that will be redeemable at local retailers where Performance Kitchen is sold.
Catering facilities at Allianz Park, home of Premiership Rugby club Saracens, will be used to help supply meals to frontline NHS staff, key workers and people in self-isolation.
The stadium will be used as part of Saracens’ link-up with the Compassion London charity, which have access to Allianz Park’s kitchens nine hours a day, seven days a week.
Meals will be provided to people in need across London, including at the city’s 12 hospitals. Compassion London aims to produce 10,000 meals a day from its Allianz Park base. More than 100 volunteers including chefs, kitchen support, delivery drivers and business owners will be involved in the programme.
Saracens has also offered the use of club vehicles such as the kit van, while several players have also visited the stadium to support volunteers.