Coronavirus: Toronto chef among volunteers amid COVID-19 crisis

A long-time Toronto chef is part of a growing online movement of neighbours helping neighbours during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I mean, it’s crazy times, so if somebody gets into trouble, I’ve got their back,” said Jordan Wagman as he seared short ribs and lamb shanks in his west Toronto home on Sunday.

Wagman volunteered his services on a public Facebook page that aims to help those impacted directly and indirectly by COVID-19. Others have offered everything from performing grocery runs to teaching resources for parents.

The chef estimated his efforts would mean 24 to 36 cups of frozen soup for people in need of some extra help.

“There are people who rely on hourly wages to support themselves and their loved ones,” he said.

“If they don’t have those hourly wages coming in, well how are they supporting themselves?”

Wagman is part of a trend online of neighbours helping neighbours during uncertain times.

Some volunteers and those seeking help have turned to the Nextdoor app, which is specifically designed to connect neighbours, each user verified as trustworthy.

“This actually lets them know that they have a community that can help them.”

He said the free app has seen an increase in users, with many offering to help.

“We’ve seen stories — very heart-warming stories — of people offering to go and get groceries, for people to drop off medications to local neighbours,” Doyle said. “It’s really important that the most vulnerable right now, that we look after them.”

For Wagman, offering up his talents as a chef to make soup at a moment of need is his way of giving back.

“Where I’ve come from and where I am today, there’s a huge amount of trials and tribulations in between,” he said. “So if I can give back and help some people by cooking some great food, that’s really easy to do.”

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