A group of Adventist friends has started a meal delivery initiative supporting frontline workers in major hospitals and health-care facilities in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
The group launched Life.Box in early April 2020 as an opportunity to reach out to health-care colleagues and contribute to the COVID-19 response effort.
The group includes a dentist, doctor, nurse, two accountants, a financial services product manager, and three chefs. All are members of The Mission Collective — young Adventist church members from across Australia focused on finding innovative and effective ways of reaching out to their peers and colleagues.
In the first week of operations, the Life.Box team supplied more than 150 meals to staff at Epworth Hospital Richmond, St. Vincent’s Hospital, and Cabrini Hospital, as well as pharmacies and disability care clinics across Melbourne.
Chefs Dores Fame, Henry Pun, and Feny Belinda are contributing their culinary skills to the cause. Fame runs a small catering business supplying the canteen services for Nunawading Christian College. She had to close her commercial catering kitchen after coronavirus lockdown measures meant canceling nearly all catering contracts for at least three months, and some until the end of 2020. Pun and Belinda were both recently stood down from their jobs at the Esplanade and Ink Hotel kitchens. Amid their own financial stress, they said they were delighted their skills could be used to support those who are also in tough times.
The rest of the volunteer team covers delivery, communications, and administration. Their donations of time and resources mean all funds raised via the Life.Box GoFundMe page are used solely for meals.
Dentist Berenice Cheng, who also helped pioneer The Mission Collective, said the group has chosen to make Life.Box's meals plant based.
“As Adventists, we are passionate about healthy living and see this as a unique opportunity we have to share the health message with a demographic we have not been able to reach before,” said Cheng, who was also recently laid off from her job.
“Many restaurants and catering businesses have jumped on the bandwagon of feeding health workers. We recognize, however, that many in health care have dietary requirements that may preclude them from enjoying the full selection of free meals presently being offered to health care workers,” Cheng added. “We want to supply them attractive, plant-based meals that are nutritious and so tasty that they don’t even realize they’re plant-based!”
Cheng explained that several of the team members come from small business backgrounds and have a heart to reach those in smaller clinics, pharmacies, and health-care facilities.
“[These are people] who may not be experiencing the same outpouring of love, support, and food donations that larger hospitals enjoy — those who, like them, remain nameless and continue to work tirelessly,” she said.