restaurants in etobicoke

People in Toronto are volunteering to deliver food for local restaurants

People in a Toronto neighbourhood are delivering food from local restaurants to show their support for their favourite spots and save them from the high delivery fees major apps charge.

iRover was inspired in part by the initiatives restaurants owners have been taking to deliver food themselves or start their own online services.

They've started out with four restaurants in South Etobicoke, and volunteers deliver from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. simply by opening their trunks for food to be placed inside and retrieved contactlessly. They're already working on adding four more.

The project started out with a group of neighbours discussing the idea of a volunteer delivery system on Facebook, and it grew from there.

"We currently have 15 volunteers," says Scott Wadell, who originally posted the idea. "I don't think there is any volunteer who knows all of the other volunteers, so it's cool seeing people stepping up outside of social circles.

iRover now involves "13 volunteers for doing deliveries, Stephen Smith working on the web page, Anne Degroot  working on graphics and hand outs, Sandra Scooby training restaurants on the process and Carmen Bouffard McLeod being the point person for new restaurants who want to be on board," according to Wadell. "We are doing a two week trial."

Right now they're carrying out the system through WhatsApp, with restaurants messaging volunteers en masse when they have an order, and giving details in a separate channel when a volunteer responds.

"It looks like this will work well," says Wadell, "but of course getting 13 volunteers and restaurants up to speed on a process like this takes time and I'm sure it will need further tweaking."

The project also aims to pay it forward. "We have also implemented a Food Bank donation element to what we are doing where we are asking the restaurants to make a donation to the Food Bank at the end of the upcoming two weeks, and our volunteers have donation boxes in their trunks to collect food bank donations," says Wadell.

"We try to keep it local but I've had a couple of deliveries that were a bit further out and there was no hesitation from the volunteer side," says Jenny Gibbes of Kitchen on Sixth, one of the partnering restaurants.

"Most of these deliveries are from people that I wouldn't have otherwise had an order from so financially this is really helping during these tough times."

"It would be great to see it continue past 2 weeks," says Wadell. "We will see how things go in the next couple of weeks in terms of both number of deliveries, operations and possible expansion of restaurants and volunteers. Also, we would be happy to list any other restaurant on here outside of our area if there are volunteers to support it."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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