British Columbia

'Our responsibility to care': Asian restaurants to donate thousands of meals to B.C. hospitals

More than 30 Asian restaurants form Chopsticks to Health Care Heroes campaign to deliver free meals to hospitals across the Lower Mainland.

More than 30 Asian restaurants form campaign to deliver meals to front-line workers

Two workers from Vancouver General Hospital receive the first trolley full of donated meals from Asian restaurants on the Lower Mainland. (Submitted)

At least 30 Asian restaurants from across the Lower Mainland have banded together to donate thousands of meals to hospitals in the region.

The "Chopsticks to Health Care Heroes" campaign dropped off its first 100 meal boxes to Vancouver General Hospital Monday afternoon.

Organizers hope to deliver at least 2,900 lunch and dinners throughout the month of April.

"They're actually risking their lives for us to be safe so we have to do something for them," said Dachen Yang of Fortune Terrace Chinese Cuisine about the role doctors and nurses are playing amid the pandemic.

Dachen Yang , owner of Fortune Terrace Chinese Cuisine in Richmond, holds two of the meal boxes he will be sending to Vancouver General Hospital. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Yang spent Monday morning in the kitchen with his staff helping to pack 50 meal boxes for delivery.

He says he hopes his small gesture will give front-line workers a boost knowing they don't have to worry about meals while trying to save lives.

'It's our responsibility to care'

It also gave some of his employees a day's worth of pay. All 28 have been laid off since mid-March.

Like many other Chinese restaurants, he says his business starting taking a hit back in February when revenue fell about 60 per cent. 

By then, many people in the Chinese community had already chosen to stay home, fearing the spread of COVID-19. 

His restaurant was only open for 15 days in March before it was mandated to shut down resulting in another major loss.

Meals are prepared for the Chopsticks to Health Care Heroes initiative inside the Fortune Terrace restaurant in Richmond on Monday, April 6, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

But, despite the pain to his pocketbook, Yang said he was happy to help donate food and pay a day's worth of wages for a good cause.

"It's our responsibility to care about people who fight [for] lives and who save the ones we care [about]," he said. "They are more important than us, I think."

Hospitals in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby

Brought together by the Chinese Restaurant Awards, Rae Kung, one of the organizers, says their efforts have been so popular, they've extended their initial two week plan to donate 1,500 meals just to VGH.

Kung says a nurse from Mount St. Joseph Hospital in East Vancouver recently emailed in hopes of being placed on their delivery list.

The facility is now set to receive 1,400 meals during the latter half of April.

Kung says, they've since heard from hospitals in Richmond and Burnaby.

Rae Kung, organizer of Chopsticks to Health Care Heroes, says the positive response from the restaurant industry and the public has been overwhelming. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

She and her team are also looking into supporting seniors' homes and fundraising for personal protective equipment for medical professionals.

People outside of the  industry have also reached out to contribute, she says, leading to a corresponding fundraising campaign that will send money back to restaurants who will cook the donated meals.

Sam Leung, chef and co-owner of Vancouver's New Fishport Seafood Bistro, cooked up 50 meals as part of the launch of Chopsticks to Health Care Heroes food delivery campaign. (Submitted)

About the Author

Lien Yeung

@LienYeung

Lien Yeung is a host and reporter with CBC Vancouver News. She has covered stories locally and nationally from Halifax to Victoria on television, radio and online. Find her on Instagram or Twitter @LienYeung or via email at lien.yeung@cbc.ca.

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