Vancouver-based grocery delivery service SPUD has introduced the “Stay Home” program to support at-risk individuals, frontline workers, the elderly and others facing difficulties accessing vital nutrition during the global pandemic.
The program’s “Stay Home” boxes – which are packed with essential ingredients for nourishing, quality meals – are donated to organizations and people in Vancouver and Calgary who are either risking their health in public-facing jobs, or unable to access an adequate food supply. Through the program, SPUD is creating new jobs, modelling the resilience and fluidity required to survive this uncertain economy, and supporting the community’s most vulnerable members – all while dealing with the social and emotional effects of COVID-19. We caught up with Peter van Stolk, CEO of SPUD, to learn more.
What was the motivation behind the “Stay Home” program?
At-risk community members have always struggled to access food, but that problem has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis – and now frontline workers and people in quarantine are being affected, too. As an online grocery retailer with a full tech team, we felt we could solve the problem by combining the technology of an online delivery platform with our legacy knowledge of delivering food.
How many new jobs have been created as a result of the “Stay Home” program?
A strong economy needs to maintain a high level of employment, so at this point we believe creating new jobs and keeping people employed is the same thing. “Stay Home” works with outside organizations affected by the pandemic, as well as new hires – the actual number of people employed, if you consider all aspects of the program, is in the hundreds.
Grocery delivery services are in demand like never before. How has this affected the way SPUD does business?
We are seeing a huge spike in demand for our services and, like all Canadians, we’re simultaneously dealing with the challenges that COVID-19 has fostered. The main effect to our team has been increased workload, although this is compounded by personal issues like adjusting to working remotely, ensuring team members are safe, dealing with the fear this crisis has cultivated, and navigating employee absences resulting from COVID-19 and our self-quarantine policies. Though this is a stressful time, I feel truly fortunate to have a team that understands, appreciates and accepts this new reality, and continues to work hard to ensure everyone in our community has access to our most basic need: food.
SPUD has created new jobs and enhanced services – a rare feat in this economic climate. What advice do you have for businesses that are struggling?
We are blessed to have an amazing team, customers and suppliers who are committed to working together to get through this crisis. My advice is to forego competition with other businesses – now is not the time. Instead, consider pivoting to form new relationships and partnerships. This pandemic has changed the rules of business, and I truly believe that companies that can change and adapt – by uniting with a perceived competitor to offer products that people need, or introducing a limited service that helps the community weather the storm of COVID-19 – will come out stronger on the other side.
To donate to SPUD’s “Stay Home” program, or to purchase a box for donation to someone in need, click here.