Jessie Baker, left, Sophia Baker and Jared Baker presented Riverside Foundation for Health Care board chair Delaine McLeod and Foundation director Allison Cox with a cheque for the funds the Baker family raised in memory of Todd Baker. The funds will go towards a new food system at La Verendrye General Hospital. -Ken Kellar photo

Memorial Donation to Benefit All Patients, One Meal at a Time

Story by Ken Kellar, Fort Frances Times, Wednesday March 21st, 2021

One local family is using their loss to help improve the experiences of others who find themselves relying on La Verendrye General Hospital.

On April 14, the family of Todd Baker made a sizeable donation of $14,362.36 in Baker’s memory to the Riverside Foundation for Healthcare in order to help improve the distribution and quality of food at the hospital in Fort Frances. The funds were raised through a combination of a GoFundMe page in Baker’s memory and a number of private donations to the cause.

In a statement from the Baker family that accompanied the donation, they explained that Baker had a passion for food and cooking, something he kept with him as he battled with cancer over a number of years.

“Over the past 10 years Todd was hospitalized numerous times in Winnipeg, Fort Frances, Thunder Bay and London, Ontario,” the family said.

“Hospital food is required for nourishment but also provides comfort when you aren’t feeling well and is an important component in your recovery. Todd felt a change was necessary in Fort Frances to improve the overall experience with their food distribution. Exacerbated by COVID, the delivery of food was an issue which Todd felt needed to be addressed. While in the hospital, Todd decided he wanted any donations in his memory to be directed towards improving the food and nutrition services department at La Verendrye General Hospital.”

Following her father’s death in March 2021, Jessie Baker consulted with the hospital to determine the best path forward for honouring his legacy. Once the parties settled on a GoFundMe to raise money, the donation goal of $10,000 was exceeded within a month. The 2.9 percent administration fee collected by GoFundMe for use of the platform was also donated back to the Foundation.

According to Simone LeBlanc, the director of support services at the hospital, the money raised by the Baker family will go towards the purchase of a “Heat on Demand” system for the hospital’s food, helping to keep it warm as it makes its way to patients’ rooms. LeBlanc explained that the system consists of a machine that heats a base plate, providing induction style heating to the food, which is covered by a dome to prevent heat loss in transit, helping to keep the quality level of the food as high as possible as it is delivered.

“We make the majority of our meals at Riverside from scratch and this technology will ensure our patient meals will remain hot for much longer,” LeBlanc said.

“This is a popular piece of technology in hospital food services. Our goal is to ensure our patients are receiving hot, nutritious, delicious meals during their stay at the hospital.”

Sheri Monahan, the supervisor for food and nutrition services at the hospital expressed her thanks to the Baker family for their donation, noting that the new equipment would be a benefit to every patient fed at the hospital.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Baker family for their donation to food and nutrition services in memory of Todd,” Monahan said.

“Food is such an important part of every patient’s healing process. We often receive feedback that patients wish their hot meals were hotter. We hope to direct these funds towards providing a more pleasurable dining experience to our patients by responding to the feedback we have received from our patients.”

Riverside Foundation for Healthcare director Allison Cox shared that this and other memorial donations are an excellent way to honour the legacy and help make important changes and improvements at the hospital in memory of family members.

“Anytime someone makes the decision to honour the memory of their loved one by setting up a memorial fund at the Foundation, we are extremely grateful,” Cox said.

“At a time when the Baker family is remembering their husband and father, they also thought of helping others and improving health care in the Rainy River District. I can’t think of a more meaningful way for them to pay tribute to Todd and we can’t thank them enough.

In the midst of a deeply personal loss, the Baker family also extended their thanks to those who supported the GoFundMe page or made other donations in Todd’s memory to help ensure all patients at La Verendrye General Hospital enjoy the best quality food possible.

“We are overwhelmed by the support and generosity from the community, family and friends,” the family said.

“Todd would be honoured to know he made a positive impact in the patient food experience. Thank you to everyone involved, for your generosity and thoughtfulness.”


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