This year, communities around the country have faced financial and health and safety issues due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. To minimize the number of people who would go hungry during the festive season, Sysco LABS Sri Lanka introduced the “Share a meal. Share a moment” initiative which would seek to provide warm meals, prepared in clean kitchens following health and safety guidelines to communities in need – in and around Colombo. The company initially pledged to donate 10,000 warm meals by December 31, 2020. However, due to an overwhelming response from its associates – a total of more than 12,000 warm meals were donated by the end of the project.
To ensure that meals were donated to those who really needed it, Sysco LABS sought the support of two volunteer groups who were experienced in the area; the Robin Hood Army and Ghedora Connects are two well-known charity organizations which are focused on hunger relief within the country and have important information and expertise about where the meals were most needed. The Rotaract club of Achievers Lanka Business School also came on board as volunteers to aid the charity organizations’ efforts to distribute as many meals as possible. Meals were prepared following all health and safety guidelines by Curries Kitchen and Curry Pot restaurants in Colombo. The Robin Hood Army is a global, volunteer based, zero-funds organization that works to get surplus food from restaurants and the community to serve less fortunate people. The organization consists of over 70,000 volunteers spread across 195+ cities, who have served more than 62 million people over the last few years. Meanwhile, Ghedora Connects is focused on supporting marginalized women and children in the poorer areas of Colombo and rural villages in Sri Lanka.
Commenting on the origins of the project and the inspiration behind it, Shanil Fernando, Managing Director – Sri Lanka and SVP Engineering said, “2020 was a challenging year across the board for everyone, with many people losing their jobs and livelihoods due to the pandemic. With this project, Sysco LABS’s hope was to fulfill an essential need in the community: a safely prepared warm meal to share with their family.” Shanil also went on to state that the project was an extension of Sysco’s hunger relief efforts across the global locations they operate, noting that Sysco donated 40 million meals across eight countries as part of its COVID-19 response.
Whilst this phase of the project was a success, the company is aware of the reality that this is merely the start of the fight against hunger in Sri Lanka and that there is much more that needs to be done. Commenting on this understanding and how the company plans to take this initiative forward, Kushani Kalpage, Senior Manager – Marketing said, “We understand that we are only at the beginning and this is a deep-rooted issue not only in our country, but around the world. As part of Sysco, the leading global foodservice distribution company, this is an initiative close to our hearts. We plan to continue prioritizing hunger relief in 2021 as well.”
If you, or anyone you know would like to donate a warm meal to those in need and help them to share a moment, you can contact The Robin Hood Army Sri Lanka via Facebook and Ghedora Connects by calling their hotline on 072 8533 014 or find them on Facebook.