Spread the love

For 22 year old Miles Robert Aronson (Rob), finding a way to help people trapped in the cycle of poverty was to provide a simple food fix; a sandwich.

The challenge

Concerned about the multiple challenges brought about by poverty, in 2002 Rob set up Spread the Love, a not-for-profit organisation that aspires to combat hunger by providing sandwiches, made by volunteers. Eight years later, the organisation has provided over 50,000 sandwiches to the hungry and homeless in Canada, engaged hundreds of young people in supporting their communities and educated thousands of Canadians about the problems created by poverty.

Through his participation in the Award, Rob has positively influenced the lives of young people across Canada. Many teachers have observed that volunteering for Spread the Love has improved class attendance, class performance and student attitudes by helping young people involved to direct positive energy towards an important social issue.

How it began

Rob started Spread the Love as a way of getting young people involved in supporting their local communities and educating them about the issues associated with poverty. He also saw an opportunity to create wider social awareness about Canadian poverty and over the past seven years has spoken to thousands of young people about Canadian food security, homelessness and social change.

Not afraid to ask for help, Rob has won pro-bono support from lawyers, free professional brand development and website design as well as negotiating a number of resources for volunteers either at discounted rates or for free. Thanks to its simple operations strategy, Spread the Love needs minimal funds to cover its basic marketing and administrative costs. In each of the 10 cities Spread the Love now operates, volunteers are recruited by an Area Leader who fundraises for sandwich ingredients via grants, donations from local grocery stores and events. Led by Rob, the organisation has involved over 67 non-profit organisations, schools and post secondary institutions and Rob has ambitious plans to spread the initiative nationwide.

A word from Rob

“The majority of people who eat Spread the Love’s sandwiches are homeless, and for them every day is about survival”, says Rob. “Many aspire to abandon street life but cannot find an immediate solution. Some are simply unable to break free from the cycle of poverty. Others go hungry because of unexpected events such as illness or injury which prevent them from working.” 

“I am thrilled to have been recognised by the Peter Cruddas Social Innovation Initiative. Making a sandwich is not complex.  But the process of a young person recruiting and co-coordinating volunteers in holding consistent events offers essential skill opportunities for aspiring leaders. Signing up to the Award programme is something I would recommend to any young person seeking to make a difference in their local communities” 

Using Spread the Love to meet his Award requirements

Rob is using his development of Spread the Love to meet the Service section of his Gold Award. The programme requires participants to step outside their comfort zone and challenge themselves to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. This in turn enables them to discover how they can use their unique talents to benefit others.

Peter Cruddas commented, “The Social Innovation Initiative is about recognising young people who have changed people’s lives by identifying a challenge and using their entrepreneurial skills to address it. I congratulate Rob wholeheartedly. Rob is a first-class social entrepreneur and Spread the Love demonstrates just what can be achieved through the Award programme. It is an example of a sustainable project which offers benefits to those people involved in its implementation as well as those who are beneficiaries of its aims”.