It Takes a Village to Support a Family
“It takes a village” – it truly does. WCK cannot make our vision a reality without a whole network of people who care about families navigating childhood cancer and blood disorders. In this blog, we describe one example of this: the people who support us to get nourishing meals into families’ hands.
Care for families facing childhood cancer and blood disorders is baked into every step of the food programs. It shapes how people handle packages and set up logistics. It even means that our partners show up on our doorstep with everything we need to send provisions to homes across B.C.
Our network understands the difference this food support makes. This is what keeps everyone invested.
sharing with families
At BC Children’s Hospital, Suzanne checks and stocks the freezer for us so we know what we need to order, pack, and deliver, week by week. At Surrey Memorial Hospital, Anna and Alison talk with the families and let us know what they need.
The incredible staff in the hospitals let families know about the meals and snacks available to them. They tell them that they can help themselves to whatever they need. The staff go to great lengths to make sure families can nourish themselves.
The difference they make
“The nurse was amazing. She told us about the freezer in the parents’ lounge with WCK meals. She even heated the food and brought it back to us. It was the first meal of substance since we got the diagnosis. Otherwise, we would have just gone to bed snacking on some crackers.” – Parent
“A new patient – a little guy from way up north – was recently in the hospital. With MRIs, scans, speaking with me…the family were there the whole day. Giving them a WCK meal amidst the chaos spoke the love. We could say, ‘Take two minutes before we go back to the chaos.’ I can’t tell you how important those meals are.” – Dr Caron Strahlendorf, Division Head of Hematology/Oncology/BMT at BC Children’s Hospital
“We had to leave our home behind and get flown out overnight to live in Vancouver. My social worker went to the freezer to get a WCK meal for me, and it was my first meal since it all happened. That was my lifesaver meal at that point.” – Parent
Families at home let us know what they need, and we work with 11 different vendors to provide the variety that meets people's dietary needs and preferences. After many rounds of taste-testing and consultation, Savoury City even helped develop a menu of family-friendly recipes for our home delivery program.
“I selected stuff for delivery and really appreciate the service you guys provide and the follow-up you do to ensure we are looked after.”
“We really do love the food options. We appreciate what you guys do more than you’ll ever know.”
Blended For You discount their smoothies for WCK, which some parents have said is all they can eat at that time. A mom once told us, “This is what I eat. This is what nourishes me.” Old Dutch donate their products to us so that we can provide snacks to keep families going during the busyness of their day.
Pace Processing also donate everything, including their amazing pot pies, which are always in high demand! They donate pizzas too, which is such a palatable option for kids.
Eat Well Ethnic Foods custom produce some items just for WCK. They also discount their products for us, as do SPUD, Old Country Pasta, and Hon's. The WCK food room is lined with storage freezers donated by Best Buy. Their collective generosity means we can stock and provide more meals for more families.
We are so full of gratitude to all of our vendors, donors, and partners, who make it possible to provide much-needed variety and choice in how families are nourished at a critical time.
At the very beginning, Richard from Blended For You came onto Zoom and helped us figure out how to best pack the boxes. He even came into the office to pack with us a couple of times, to help us know how to insulate meals of different shapes and sizes.
We benefit from their bulk orders of thermal liners and ice packs, so it’s a fraction of the price. We also don’t have the storage capacity for making our own bulk orders, so their generosity in sharing removes a huge obstacle.
Geoff from Boxmaster donates and delivers all of our boxes. If we had to pay for these boxes, it would put a huge dent in our meal budget. The savings are amazing, and having them delivered to our door is such a huge help because trying to pick things up takes up time.
“Yeah, it’s boxes, but Geoff understands that we need them. He always responds and understands we need these boxes to send food to families and he always, without fail, gets them to us.” – Karin Alleyne, previous Food Programs Coordinator
If all these people weren’t willing to help us with these pieces, it would have significantly changed the cost of the program, who it’s accessible to, and how.
Chanelle is our rep at Purolator. When we first told her we were planning to deliver frozen meals to families all over B.C., she said, “Okay – got it. Let’s make this happen.” Purolator were fully on board from the beginning.
We send Chanelle the list of addresses and their tracking pin. She sends that information to each distribution centre. No matter where it’s going, whether it’s Vernon or Sidney, Chanelle says, “Here are the families that are expecting food,” and those people make sure it gets delivered within 24 hours. They understand the importance.
Emmy, Lauren, and Richard from Corporate Couriers get the food from our office to families’ doorsteps in an hour.
It’s a personalized, one-on-one service. Families appreciate that it’s a professional service and there’s no pressure on them to do anything other than accept the package.
With all of the couriers we work with, we see their care and thoughtfulness in every delivery.
Our food volunteers are so amazing, there’s a whole other blog about two of them. From organizing to packing, labelling to delivering and making follow-up calls to families, they bring the food programs to life. We want to thank Elaine, Colleen, Janet, Rachele, Gail, Jocelyn, Sheila, and Leslie for doing what they do so brilliantly.
They’re so intentional about what they do. We hear them say, “There’s not enough Cheezits in this bag! There are too many granola bars in here!” They know families and they pack with variety in mind. Whatever someone’s favourite is, they want to make sure it’s there. It all comes from that care. They understand, and they want to help.
When asked why they show up week after week, one volunteer simply replied, “It fills me up.”
Most importantly...the impact
“The food delivery has saved us. Food is one of the hardest parts of all of this.” – Parent
"When going through something difficult, to be brought a delicious meal is amazing. As a family that receives the meals, it’s felt in that way. Someone gave us this meal and now we get to nourish ourselves with it." – Parent
“Thank you for supporting families and providing such good meals during our time in hospital. My daughter’s always enjoying the meals, and I don’t have to think about packing food for the long day in the hospital.” – Parent
“On the days where I slept all day, or couldn’t keep down more than a few saltines because of my nausea, it was easy for my mum to forget meals. This is why I’m so thankful for WCK’s well-stocked freezer and food deliveries.” – Young Person
“The food programs have never been just about the food. They have always been about the connection that food can provide. Yes, connection within families, but also with a larger community surrounding them, showing up for them, that really cares.” – Alice Cheung, Food Programs Coordinator
Hey! I'm Alice.
Want to learn more about WCK Food Programs? Reach out to our Food Programs Coordinator Alice Cheung at alice.cheung[at]wckfoundation.ca.