Welcome to Word
Tell me about your upcoming trip.
On April 10, I’ll be putting my boots on the ground at the Ukraine-Poland border, working with the World Central Kitchen and the United Nations World Food Program. I figured I’d get hands-on with assisting, directing and doing whatever it may be to facilitate as many meals as I can with the top chef in the world. You know, chef Andrés is a celebrity, he’s been around, but he’s also helped a lot when it comes to natural disaster relief.
How did you get involved?
They reached out to me through Hot Docs. Chef Andrés has a documentary premiering and they’ve asked me to be a speaker for it. That’s when the collaboration started. I offered my services and I told them how my app could help displaced and travelling people in need of food.
What’s the first thing you’re doing when you land?
Picking up my truck and heading straight to the location that’s been designated to me. Everything else is undisclosed at the present time.
How will the skills and expertise you’ve developed help on the ground in Poland and Ukraine?
With Feed It Forward’s farm logistics, warehousing, kitchens, restaurants and grocery stores, I’ve covered each little area of how and where food comes from and moves around. I know exactly how it can be repurposed, reutilized or recycled. I’ve also lived through two hurricanes—Andrew and Hugo—and I’ve seen what destruction does to communities. If I can do my little part, I’m going to do it.
What will the facilities be like?
I’m really well-versed in shipping containers that can be transformed into kitchens, so my goal is to eventually create and deliver such things. But in the interim, we’ll be working in the emergency field kitchens, established and staffed by the World Central Kitchen.
How does your family feel about you going?
Valid question. They’re all a little worried but ultimately fine with it. They know I have a lot of experience, and that I’ll be able to be cool and calm, and do what I have to do. I’ve taken all the precautions. And my 27-year-old daughter, who’s my best friend, will be coming on my next trip there.
You’re not just bringing your know-how to the conflict zone, you’re also bringing your Feed It Forward app, which helps people in need of food find it for free.
It’s really amazing to be able to bring the Feed It Forward app, recently translated into Polish and Ukrainian, to the region. Ukrainians are displaced, traveling across borders and looking for their next meal. I figured my app would be the perfect fit, to help them find out where there will be free food waiting for them, and also for people who are looking to donate food.
What’s new for you here at home?
We’ve created an electronic wallet for people who would like to shop with dignity. For every dollar that’s donated, 50 cents goes into the wallet of someone in need. So they’re just able to shop the grocery store and take what they need. Points are added or deducted from their e-wallets, then they can leave with a smile and not worry about being embarrassed. I’m also so excited because this year we are up to three farms, from two. And we’ve co-created a new program helping feed kids in Hamilton, on top of a collaboration with OCAD supplying food that was destined for the landfill to two community fridges that students can access for free. I’m gifted with angels around me—now I just have to find the financial angels.
Which brings me to: How can people help out with what you’re doing?
I am the last guy to ask for money—Feed It Forward’s not funded whatsoever—but I was told verbatim “don’t be afraid to ask for money.” I now know we can do so much more when we have it. So I invite people to participate by donating the money they can to support families in need at feeditforward.ca.