Save on Meat's Mark Brand & CBC's Big Decision

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I don't often write a lot about myself here, aside from self deprecating commentary, but I wanted to share with you a story that I really connect with and that is deserving of some seriousness. Regardless of whether you're from Vancouver, the USA, Europe, or Asia, we can all relate to the causes of these issues. All it takes is for one person to lead the charge.

Mark Brand became a household name thank to the OWN network's 'Gastown Gamble', a show that told the story behind Mark's acquisition and revival of the historic Save on Meat's butcher shop in Vancouver's Downtown East Side, Canada's poorest neighbourhood.

Image via Ki Communications
Aside from just reviving a local icon, Mark wanted to establish a social enterprise in the neighbourhood through collaboration with other local programs, providing the area's residents a chance to start over. Rather than viewing these people as addicts, prostitutes, and other nefarious labels, Mark (and his partners) gives them back their identities, their names.

Currently, Save on Meats supports a meal program that feeds 450+ DTES residents daily (we're talking 7 days a week, daily), and is rolling out a one-of-a-kind meal token initiative on November 29, 2012.

The Save on Meats meal token program aims to target that dilemma we all face when we're approached by the homeless. We want to help, but we can never guarantee where the money we give is going - food? Drugs? Alcohol? These tokens, worth $2.25, enable the holder to visit Save on Meats and exchange the token for a breakfast sandwich. The tokens have no monetary value and cannot be exchanged for anything else.

Through his media team, Brand says of the program, "This token program has been a long time coming. It isn't just about being able to provide someone with a nourishing meal, but also the engagement into your community and the power of real human interaction. This is our city and we want to make it better every day with unconventional solutions."

Tonight, Mark Brand and Save on Meats will be featured on CBC's The Big Decision (at 9:00pm!). The show features 2 Canadian businesses that are struggling in the current economic times. Arlene Dickinson, a Canadian marketing communications entrepreneur, will make the Big Decision, as to whether she will step in and invest in Save on Meats, or the competitor.

Earlier this fall, Mark spoke at both TEDxSFU and TEDxVancouver, sharing his story of how Save on Meats came to be and the social enterprise that is currently helping transform the DTES. You can watch Mark's TEDxSFU talk here (TEDxVancouver talk isn't available yet).

Save on Meats has some cool things happening over the next few months - stay tuned to their website for more details.

1 comment:

ko0ty said...

The token meal program is an amazing idea! I don't feel comfortable giving out money to people on the streets because I never know what they are going to do with that money but I would give them a token. Just today a homeless man asked me for money but I invited him into a Starbucks and bought him a coffee and a sandwich instead. Makes me feel a lot better that they are fed!