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Uniting people in unlikely ways during the COVID-19 crisis

Despite the challenges and loss of business for majority of restaurants, a united group of 40+ restaurants throughout British Columbia’s lower mainland have been working diligently on their meal donations to health care workers through the #ChopsticksToHeroes campaign.

On April 6, 2020, the Chinese Restaurants Awards group began their two-week campaign. They initially had the goal to donate 1,500 meals, 100 meals per day for 15 days, to health-care workers at the Vancouver General Hospital.

However, due to the wonderful feedback and popularity of this campaign, the Chinese Restaurants Awards decided to extend their initiative. Immediately following the announcement of the extension, East Vancouver’s Mount St. Joseph Hospital emailed the group and added their name to the campaign’s delivery list.

Since then, the initiative has expanded to 40+ restaurants, and meals have been donated to Vancouver General Hospital, Mount St. Joseph Hospital, Richmond General Hospital, Hospital Purdy Pavilion, Royal Columbian Hospital, Dr. Peter Centre, and COVID-19 testing sites in Downtown, Central Park, and Edmonds.

Dachen Yang, the owner of Fortune Terrace Chinese cuisine in Richmond, shared a glimpse of what his business and campaign experience has been like during these times.

Many of the employees working under his business and alongside many other Asian restaurants were starting to “take a hit back in February when revenue fell about 60 percent” (CBC). In February, many people in the community started to stay home, as they feared the spread of the novel coronavirus. Yang’s Fortune Terrace was only open for 15 days in March before it was mandated to shut down, which unfortunately led to Dachen Yang and his employees being laid off.

Still, this major loss did not stop them from contributing to the #ChopsticksToHeroes campaign.

“It’s our responsibility to care about people who fight [for] lives and who saves the ones we care [about]. They are more important than us, I think.”

- Dachen Yang, owner of Fortune Terrace Chinese Cuisine in Richmond

This kind gesture allows front-line workers to focus on saving lives rather than worrying about their meals and has also given some of Yang’s employees a day’s worth of pay after being laid off since March.

Rae Kung, one of the organizers, has said her team has been looking at an initiative to support senior homes, as well as fundraising for personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals.

Pictured above is Rae Kung, a primary organizer in the #ChopstickstoHeroes campaign.

Community Impact

The impact of the #ChopstickstoHeroes campaign has been seen all over BC. Here are some statistics outlining the progress thus far:

  • 1,500 meals to Vancouver General Hospital

  • 900 meals to Mount Saint Joseph Hospital

  • 640 meals to Richmond General Hospital

  • 640 meals to UBC Hospital Purdy Pavilion

  • 500 meals to Royal Columbia Hospital

  • 400 meals to Dr. Peter Centre

  • 400 meals to three COVID-19 Testing Sites (Downtown, Central Park, and Edmonds)

Some of the meals distributed by #ChopstickstoHeroes.

Clearly, #ChopstickstoHeroes is a boon for the BC community. It is so wonderful to see people making a difference in the time of a pandemic. Even though times are changing rapidly, it is good to reflect on what you’re passionate about and see what you want to contribute towards in the world.

We wish them the best in their future deliveries!

Article Contributors: Katrina Artes, Rahma Osman, Olivia Ye, Edie Whittington