Following a successful run in B.C., the #LunchBoxChallenge was recently launched in the Greater Toronto Area and is quickly gaining momentum, with many local construction firms stepping up to recognize frontline workers while supporting local restaurants struggling due to COVID-19.
The initiative was started by Scott Construction Group, headquartered in B.C. The company decided to expand the program to Ontario, where they have a few projects. So far almost 50 construction companies have participated feeding thousands of workers on jobsites in the two provinces.
“Now that some of the restrictions are being lifted and the sites are being allowed to operate again, we thought it was good timing to really put a good news story out there,” said Darin Hughes, president of Scott Construction Group. “This is something the construction industry can do to help the restaurant industry which has absolutely been decimated because of this. In the construction industry we often do buy lunches for our workers to thank them for key milestones, so the two ideas came together and it helped both sides.”
The idea came from Scott Construction’s mental health committee which was looking for ways to encourage workers on jobsites while helping local businesses. Similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge, construction companies buy lunches for workers on their jobsites to support local restaurants and challenge a competitor or colleague to do the same. Companies can also take up the challenge on their own.
About 30 workers at Scott Construction’s Bronte Medical Centre jobsite in Milton, Ont. were served lunch from Judy’s Restaurant in Erin, Ont. on May 20.
“We did it because we thought it would be a really great way to thank our frontline workers, the site staff for all the work they’ve done to ensure that we continue to operate as an industry,” said Hughes.
“It was certainly well received by the workers onsite. It is a medical office building, so it was an essential service from the get-go. It had been continually operating since the restrictions came into place. There were a lot of changes that went on in those early days as far as putting protocols in place and our workers did a great job of rolling with it.”
Scott Construction subsequently put out a dual challenge to Gillam Group and Green Propeller Design.
Gillam held the lunch May 21 at its China City project in Scarborough, Ont. As a safety advocate, Gillam Group president Craig Lesurf said it was important to follow the protocols put in place to serve the lunches safely.
“Our superintendent painted arrows on the floor two metres apart and told everybody you need to be on an arrow, don’t advance until the next guy moves,” Lesurf said, explaining the enhanced safety measures put in place. “We did it in two shifts to make sure everybody didn’t group up all at once and we served about 55 lunches. The project manager and co-ordinator masked up, gloved up and wore glasses and served all the meals and everybody picked them up. It was a boxed lunch from Churrasco Portugril. Everything was self-contained with utensils and serviettes within the packages.”
Gillam challenged Eastern Construction and Maple Reinders. Both companies accepted the challenge, Lesurf said.
“It’s a win-win-win for Gillam because we get to show appreciation, local businesses get support because they have been losing revenues and…our workers benefit with a nice meal,” said Lesurf.
The challenge is not limited to supporting workers on construction sites. On May 29, Green Propeller Design bought lunch for Milton paramedics from The Lunchbox Cafe.
“We embraced it enthusiastically to generate some goodwill here in Milton,” said Marina Huissoon, an architect at Green Propeller Design who works with Scott Construction on the Milton project.
“My idea was to give some thanks to the paramedics who are working hard and the Lunchbox Cafe, which is a catering service run by Community Living North Halton.”
Huissoon said the #LunchBoxChallenge is a great way to pay tribute to workers.
“While there has been a lot of recognition of frontline workers and how thankful we are that they are there for us, the fact of the matter is construction sites were deemed by the province to be an essential service,” Huissoon noted. “I think it’s great that the program acknowledges that what they do also matters and that they are also the backbone of the economy.”
Scott Construction plans to launch the initiative in Calgary, Alta. soon.
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