Michael Swan

Good Shepherd to provide homeless a Super Bowl feast

  • February 9, 2024

An ongoing collaboration between the Rabba Roots community program and Good Shepherd Ministries will see the eighth annual dinner event on Super Bowl Sunday, providing upwards of 100 overnight shelter guests with hot gameday-style meals and a night of sports entertainment. 

Rima Rabba, the head of marketing for Rabba Fine Foods, says the need for genuine community outreach stems from its founder, Jack Rabba, who opened his first grocery store in downtown Toronto in 1967. 

“Jack was a new Canadian that came here and struggled and built himself up. He always had that spot in his heart to go above and beyond for people in our communities,” Rabba said. 

Operating with its founder’s core values in mind, the company has been widely involved in supporting the local community and has been working directly with Good Shepherd since 2016 to provide a game-day dinner to those in need. Guests this year will take in the Kansas City Chiefs defending their title against the San Francisco 49ers Feb. 11.

Food donations from partners such as Pizzeria Libretto, Maple Leaf Foods, Lassonde, Campbells, Heritage Foods, Bush’s Beans and more allows Rabba Roots to provide more than enough for just the one dinner, and it’s expected 2,500 additional meals and snacks will be available in coming weeks for the less fortunate. 

“Our partners have been nothing short of amazing,” said Rabba. “All of the food gets pushed through our distribution centre and that makes it as easy as possible for Good Shepherd to receive the goods to be prepared for the dinner the night of.” 

Gourmet pizza, chicken wings, hot dogs and other sides and beverages are on the menu. 

“It’s about giving them a sense of comfort and normalcy,” Rabba said. “We’re giving them what a Super Bowl party is, it’s not soup and bread. We’re giving them a reason to celebrate life and bolstering those feelings of fun and celebration in what we serve.”

“Super Bowl dinner” also includes a viewing party for the big game after the meal. This was again made possible with the help of Rabba Fine Foods, which donated a handful of big-screen televisions a few years ago to be used in the cafeteria during the event. 

Upwards of 10,000 people experience homelessness in some form, City of Toronto stats show, and Good Shepherd Ministries is feeling the effects on its day-to-day operations. The ministry saw a 30-per-cent increase in demand for meals and ended 2023 having served  over 330,000 meals. 

“It means a great deal to us that Rabba, which has strong roots in our community, is eager to get involved in helping the less fortunate. It is heart-warming to know that Rabba shares Good Shepherd’s commitment to providing hospitality and promoting human dignity for people in need,” said Adrienne Urquhart, Good Shepherd’s director of fundraising & public relations.

This year’s Super Bowl dinner will take place at The Good Shepherd on Queen Street East, with food service beginning at 5:30 p.m.  

“I know that we’re better together and we’re better when we are all supporting each other and pushing each other into a better way of living,” Rabba said. “It’s not just about who can come into our stores and afford groceries. We are here for our neighbourhoods and our communities and that will always extend beyond our business model.” 

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