Vancouver Whitecaps donate food prepared for postponed match to local food bank

Ed Georgica is trying to make the best of an unfortunate, and unprecedented situation.

When Major League Soccer announced a 30-day suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it meant 42 games would be postponed, including a Western Conference showdown between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rapids at BC Place originally scheduled for Saturday, March 14.

The Whitecaps stay at an area hotel the night before home games and, as such, make arrangements to feed the team and staff — around 50 in total — three meals. Those meals are paid for and arranged some 15 days in advance.

With no game, and no hotel stay, what happens with all that food?

That’s where Georgica, the Whitecaps’ head of operations & facilities, raced to action.

“Hearing about the shortage of food in different areas through the United States and Canada, why are we not giving this perishable food to the local food banks in our areas?” he told MLSsoccer.com.

So, with the help of the Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown, Georgica reached out to Greater Vancouver Food Bank to ask about donating the food.

Georgica said food banks usually turn down perishable food, but considering the unusual times, an exception was made.

A refrigerated truck arrived at the hotel on Saturday afternoon to bring the food to Vancouver’s most needy, from homeless to single parents. It included fruits, pastas, salads, salmon, about 60-70 chicken breasts and 12-15 pounds of steak. Georgica estimates it could feed more than 300.

“A lot of the shelves are getting plummeted with people buying and overstocking so these people don’t have the ability to get that stuff, or be fed,” he said.

Georgica said he reached out to the head of food and beverage at BC Place to see if the food that was planned to be sold at the now-postponed game could also go to the food bank. And, if the league’s training moratorium goes beyond Monday, Georgica has more planned donations.

“If we can train Monday and we’re off for another week, all that food that’s sitting in the fridge has to go somewhere,” he said. “So, I’m going to donate our training facility meals to the food bank or other food banks in the area.”

Georgica is hoping this charitable effort picks up, not only across MLS but also throughout other leagues in North America. He said he’s already heard from another MLS club that is looking to do the same thing in its area.

“Why can’t we put a challenge out to all these facilities from NHL to NBA to MLS to NCAA — don’t throw your food out,” he said. “Give it to your local food banks so we can help these people in these uncharted times.”