Lisa Martell started as Executive Director of A Loving Spoonful in 2008. She joined the organization because she was inspired by the work they’ve been doing to provide healthy, nutritious meals and nutritional support to those living with HIV and co-existing illness. We spoke with Lisa to find out more about the organization.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
A Loving Spoonful has been providing healthy nutritious meals and nutritional support to those living with HIV and co-existing illness for over 32 years. Over 3.5 million free meals have been provided within Metro Vancouver. Over the past 2 years we have worked closely with Vancouver Coastal Heath to provide meals to vulnerable populations that were required to isolate due to Covid 19. We also assisted other groups throughout the pandemic that were in need of urgent meal support. Those included: seniors, children’s programs, people with disabilities, single moms with children and supportive housing.
What problem does it aim to solve?
The specialized and diverse meal service at A Loving Spoonful is unique in nature as we are able to adhere to address complex dietary requirements for individuals by providing meals which are: easy chew, diabetic friendly, low sodium, high protein etc. At any given time our freezer has an astounding 8,000 meals in stock! A Loving Spoonful is reliant on volunteers to support the important work we are doing in the community. We have various volunteer opportunities including: food packing, assembling meals for distribution or helping out at events. We also have a wonderful group of volunteers who deliver meals every Tuesday all over Metro Vancouver using their own cars, gas and time to ensure those who are most at risk are supported.
When did you start/join it?
I started as the Executive Director in October of 2008. I was inspired by the incredible work of the organization and the tremendous community support of individual donors, corporate donors, foundations and volunteers. Over the many years I have seen resilience and positive changes in our community but there is more work to be done. With the cost of food on the rise and access to nutritious meals becoming more challenging than ever to source for some of our more vulnerable populations, barriers to food security need to be addressed.
What made you want to get involved?
My passion has always been for helping others, connecting community and being pleasantly persistent to achieve goals that will further our mission to help as many people as possible. Prior to my position at A Loving Spoonful I was the Associate Director at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society for four years where I was able to also see the immense and basic need for food in our communities. I’ve always believed and had a strong sense of community and have been elected onto various committees and Boards over the years where I was able to proudly serve.
What was the situation like when you started?
When I started over 13 years ago the face of HIV/AIDS was continually changing as there had now been effective medication and resources in play that would help people live longer and more fulfilled lives.
When I first started I remember hearing personal stories from various people (now friends) in our community who told me heart wrenching details of their diagnosis in the late 80’s, followed by a poor prognosis of only months to live and how the cocktail of medications at the time wreaked havoc of their bodies. These are stories I will never forget.
How has it changed since?
In the past 2 years our organization has made multiple large scale transformations, in part due to the onset of Covid 19. In addition to providing meals to our own clients (where HIV referrals and individuals on service have been at an all-time high due to co-existing illness) we stepped up to assist with meal support for various groups that were in need of basic meals or emergency meals due to Covid 19 isolation. At one point we were providing an astonishing 16,000 meals per month due to the limited services available in the community. After working with various groups in addition to our HIV clients it was clear that there was a gap in sourcing: high quality, cost effective, specialized meal services that A Loving Spoonful would be able to fill. The expansion of our operations and opening of a large scale commercial kitchen will be an exciting adventure and serve a much needed purpose.
What more needs to be done?
Within the next few months we will officially open one of the largest commercial kitchens in the downtown eastside. It is over 5,200 square feet with impressive capacity for cost effective meal production. At this time we are asking the community to donate financially if they are in a position to support the opening of our new commercial kitchen. Corporate donations and new sponsorship opportunities are also available. Please contact me directly to discuss at firstname.lastname@example.org
How can our readers help?
Financial donations are needed and can be made at www.alovingspoonful.org. We are also looking for volunteers to assist with packing meals. There are various opportunities available during the daytime, evenings and weekends. If you are interested in helping out on an ongoing basis or just once in while please contact us at email@example.com
Do you have any events coming up?
The grand opening of our new commercial kitchen will be coming up this Spring/Summer. Tours and additional volunteer opportunities to help out in the kitchen will be posted soon. Please email volunteers@alovingspoonful to be added to our email list.
Where can we follow you?
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