You can usually find Dr. Sharadh Sampath in one of Richmond Hospital's operating rooms. As the Director of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program and the Division Head of General Surgery, his surgical schedule keeps him pretty busy. However, in his spare time, he trades in his scalpel for a chef's knife to work on his other passion – ElevATE Society.
“The idea for ElevATE came from a backyard conversation with two of my friends – both who have young children around the same age as mine," he said. “As they grow, we want to teach and show our kids the value and importance of being of service to your community. From that initial conversation grew a beautiful concept for a non-profit organization that combined our passions – food, sustainability and social equity – and ElevATE was born."
Soon after, the ElevATE team started to expand, attracting leaders from the culinary, non-profit, construction and agriculture industries with a shared desire to break the cycles of social inequity by providing training and living wage work for those facing barriers to employment. Doubling down on their commitment to community, all profits from ElevATE will be donated to registered charities in the community.
“Our organization is made up of a group of people who have a strong desire to be of service to their communities in a way that is sustainable and broadly impactful. We hope our projects create a ripple effect inspiring others to help build their own communities," added Sharadh.
While surgical training, building his practice and growing a family have been all-consuming for Sharadh for the past number of years, he has been able to devote more time to social and environmental interests more recently.
When asked how he finds the balance between home, work and community, his answer is direct.
“To me, it's less about balance and more about recognizing privilege," said Sharadh. “I was born healthy and to a loving family. My family immigrated to one of the only places on earth with free health care, education, democracy and a social safety net. I've never had to worry about finding clean water, food or medication for my family. All I have to do is get up in the morning and go to a job I love and work on projects I'm passionate about. I'm just trying to pay back a small part of what I've been given in life."
The CultivATE food truck– the first of three projects outlined by the ElevATE team – has recently rolled out. CultivATE will offer an original menu featuring locally-sourced, seasonal and healthy food that's made from scratch.
While the food truck will travel around the Lower Mainland, it will pop up regularly at health-care sites, with proceeds donated back to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, Richmond Hospital Foundation and the St. Paul's Foundation.
“Once we're up and running, we'll look to staff the CultivATE food truck with community members who have encountered barriers to employment. They will receive training and a true living wage," said Sharadh. “We want to cultivate human potential – this is one of the most important pillars of this project."
Sharadh and the ElevATE team have big plans. They're also working to launch the ElevATE Food Pod – a unique dining concept located in downtown Vancouver – with their sights set on starting a farm, supplying their culinary ventures and community members with local produce.
“ElevATE Society and its first project, the CultivATE food truck, have been true passion projects for me. It's been spectacular to see the other brilliant minds of the ElevATE team come together to strengthen the initiative and to turn these concepts into reality," added Sharadh. “We are so excited to launch the CultivATE food truck and share this project with VCH staff and patients as well as our community members."