The Grassroots Revolution is comprised of two programs, The Soap Revolution and McAntony’s Menu. It encompasses all of GlobalMedic’s innovative methodology and focuses on leveraging volunteer labour and raising awareness through active volunteer participation. Overall, we can fill gaps in systems that already exist in order to reach the greatest number of people.
GlobalMedic has run a number of responses in Canada including responding to wildfires in Fort McMurray in 2016, British Columbia in 2017 and Alberta in 2019, and supporting many Syrian refugees as they arrived in 2016. Most consistently, we support local shelters and health clinics with the distribution of hygiene items and over-the-counter medicines. After evaluating the existing mechanisms we use to fill gaps in the humanitarian sector internationally, we identified areas where we could use these mechanisms domestically.
The Soap Revolution
We include basic hygiene items in our Family Emergency Kits because we know they help keep people healthy. After a disaster, proper hygiene can prevent the spread of deadly illnesses like cholera. This is an issue we see internationally, but even in Canada many basic hygiene items are inaccessible to low-income families. We designed The Soap Revolution to help tackle this problem.
In Canada, and particularly the Greater Toronto Area, many low-income families are accessing food banks and shelters to meet their basic needs.
People often prioritize food, water and other critical items, and often forget or simply cannot afford hygiene items. Keeping up with basic hygiene practices is essential for staying healthy. Something as simple as frequent hand washing can help prevent the spread of illnesses in Canada’s low income communities.
Our goal with this program is to create easier access to one of the most basic hygiene items – soap. By increasing access we can help lower the number of cases of easily preventable illnesses in low income communities. We can also alleviate the burden of having to choose critical items like food over hygiene items.
The soap we use in this program is 100% recycled hotel soap from Clean the World. The soap is melted down, sanitized, and then reformed into new bars. Our volunteers package the soap into ‘family packs’ of 6 bars. These packs are then distributed through our existing food bank and shelter partners.
We can distribute bars of soap for a fraction of their retail price through the use of volunteers and partnering with Clean the World.
In the summer of 2018, we started developing GlobalMedic’s Emergency Food Program. The entire premise of our Food Program is that it is adaptable and must be changed to best fit the needs of the people we are looking to reach. McAntony’s Menu is the domestic arm of this program.
1 in 8 households or nearly 4 million Canadians across the country are food insecure. In Toronto, this number is even higher with 1 in 5 households experiencing food insecurity. The effect of food insecurity is immense, causing increased risk of poor mental and physical health. Food insecure households can have healthcare costs up to 121% higher compared to those who are food secure. Families often have to make the decision to skip meals in order to pay for rent, phone bills and transportation.
This program mobilizes volunteers and our existing supply chains in order to create 500g bags of pantry staples like rice, lentils and kidney beans. Volunteers fill these individual bags with food from large 50 lb bags. These bags are boxed up and then delivered to food banks and other support programs to support their clients. Donating food in this way allows us to give a 500g bag of food to a family for a third to a quarter of the retail price. Because we make bulk orders of products in large sizes, we make the most of our buying power. Utilizing volunteers allows the cost of creating this product to remain so low.
Another key aspect to this program is the look of the finished product. We wanted the design for the food packaging donated through the McAntony’s Menu program to look similar to other products you would see in a retail environment. People who are accessing food banks deserve the dignity of choosing from items that are not obviously “charity food”. Therefore, the design does not feature the GlobalMedic name or logo.
McAntony’s Menu is not meant to compete with existing food support services but rather to complement a heavily utilized system. The program is a unique way to think about and approach food donation.
We launched The Grassroots Revolution at the beginning of 2020 and since then have been working to get out as much aid through this program as possible. Much of our impact at the beginning of the program was in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. Through The Grassroots Revolution we have delivered: