This MBA ’20 grad devoted her summer to supporting local restaurants and keeping frontline workers fed
October 21, 2020
Most graduating students look forward to taking a break in the months following graduation, but new grad Loren Morrone (MBA ’20) just had one of her busiest summers yet.
Loren Morrone (MBA ’20)
In April, Morrone became aware of how the pandemic was affecting her community. She saw many of her favourite local restaurants and cafés — once packed with diners — struggle to stay afloat. At the same time, she became increasingly concerned about the safety and well-being of her friends who were working on the frontlines of the pandemic. Having completed an executive residency in corporate strategy and process improvement at the Hospital for Sick Children during her MBA, Morrone had seen, first-hand, how hard frontline staff and the hospital administration worked.
“With the uncertainty surrounding us, it was easy to feel helpless, but my friends and I saw an opportunity to make a difference,” says Morrone. “We wanted to develop creative solutions that could solve multiple problems affecting our community.”
Putting the MBA to the test
She and her friends started brainstorming and designing a pilot project which later became Meals TO Heal. The premise was straightforward but effective: using donations from the community, the group purchased bulk meals prepared by local restaurants and delivered them to frontline staff at Toronto-area hospitals.
“We knew that we hit on something when we reached our initial goal of raising $2,000 within 36 hours,” says Morrone. “There was an appetite to help and make a difference.”
With the business school curriculum still fresh in her mind, Morrone quickly put her skills and experience in planning, logistics and marketing to use. She reached out to local restaurants about partnership opportunities, oversaw the logistics of co-ordinating volunteers and deliveries, and worked on building awareness around the project by strengthening the group’s social media presence and by speaking to media.
“This summer really allowed me to put the MBA to the test,” she explains. “On a practical level, I could draw on my operations and strategy classes in coordinating resources and managing deliveries.”
“On a higher level, I was able to use the critical thinking mindset I had developed during the MBA. When I came up against a serious problem, I instinctively knew how to jump into action mode and focus on finding a solution.”
“With the uncertainty surrounding us, it was easy to feel helpless, but my friends and I saw an opportunity to make a difference.”
—Loren Morrone, MBA ’20
Making an impact
By the end of the summer, Meals TO Heal surpassed their expectations and ended up serving approximately 3,500 meals and raising more than $50,000 in funds. They extended their reach — taking the advice of frontline workers they served, the group started delivering meals to long-term care homes, retirement homes and shelters.
The feedback they received was powerful. At the height of the pandemic, many healthcare providers were putting in long hours and some were separated from their families. The meals made a difference.
"Many staff members expressed their gratitude. It made a real difference to them knowing that the community was thinking of them,” says Morrone. “We took pride in knowing that these meals gave frontline workers one less thing to take care of.”
When Toronto entered stage three of reopening the city, the team put Meals TO Heal on pause.
“We’ll definitely keep an eye on the situation,” Morrone says. “If there are subsequent waves of the pandemic, we could resume fundraising and meal deliveries. Or we might explore other ways to support our restaurants, frontline workers and community members.”
Since then, Morrone has turned her attention to other priorities. Besides taking a well-deserved break, she recently accepted a position with Medcan, where she’ll be working as a product manager in annual health assessment. She’s ready for this next role: she’s proven that she’s up for any challenge that might arise.
Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »