Mark Brand, one of North America’s foremost social entrepreneurs, is determined to breathe new life into the struggling and disjointed community of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side through a series of initiatives with food and love at their heart.
Mark Brand‘s Token Scheme has filled a quarter of a million empty stomachs
Eight years ago, charismatic social entrepreneur Mark Brand took over Save On Meats, a Vancouver-based institution that has provided food security and access since 1957.
In 2013, Brand created The Token Program, an alternate currency to feed those in need without a cash exchange. Tokens solve the dilemma that many people face when hesitant to give money rather than food to people they see on the street. The program acts as a bridge between people who want to give and people who need the support.
Since then, more than 125,000 tokens have been redeemed, filling 125,000 empty stomachs, and creating a quarter million interactions I between those who have and those in need in Vancouver. The Token Program has launched with partners from San Francisco to Nova Scotia.
In addition, in partnership with his charity A Better Life Foundation (ABLF), more than 2.1 million meals have left Save On’s doors to feed those who struggle. Plus, dozens of marginalised individuals who were formerly homeless have found a home.
A Better Life Foundation works to increase food security for women and children fleeing violence, street entrenched youth and people living below the poverty line.
Meals cost $3.50 to prep, cook and deliver to residents, and the cost of meals is subsidised by donations to A Better Life Foundation. ABLF works with community agencies and governments to create tangible waves of change.
No traditional barriers to employment at any of Brand’s enterprises
Employment doesn’t always come easy for marginalised populations and yet it makes the greatest difference. There is the assumption that hiring this population is a burden and that is simply untrue. The reality is that hiring people with barriers benefits the economy and benefits businesses.
Staff retention is 72% higher than traditional employment and businesses are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets. Beyond the numbers, the energy and positivity that employees with barriers bring to the workplaces is immeasurable.
Mark Brand Inc. (MBI) is a member of the Presidents Group, a government funded advocacy organisation educating Vancouver businesses on the benefits of hiring people with barriers to traditional employment. They provide mentorship to other small businesses in the application of hiring people with barriers and its benefits to the community and businesses.
48% of Save On Meats employees identify with traditional employment barriers*.
*Traditional barriers to employment could include a past criminal record, mental or physical disabilities, past substance abuse, or sexual orientation.
Mark Brand Inc.’s mission is to support local community, enabling upward mobility through employment, training and investing in the future.
Mark Brand’s TED Talk is available here.
How to Help People in Need: 10 Steps (with Pictures)
Someone you know somewhere might be in trouble financially. They don't have enough food, or even a roof over their head. What can you do to help? There are many useful and caring things you can do to help out.