EDMONTON -- An initiative to get pre-made meals to front-line workers is taking off in cities across North America. And It has just as much to do with keeping restaurant staff workers on-the-job as getting nourishment to those working in hospitals, fire halls, ambulances and police cars.

The agency that puts restaurants in touch with donors who will sponsor heat-and-eat hearty meals is called Sustain The Line. The co-founder of the initiative says one recent example in Sherwood Park, Alberta shows how a small idea can become a selfless pay-it-forward act that inspires and builds on itself.

“We were able to talk to our corporate and individual supporters, and we were able to get them behind the idea in minutes,” Aron Solomon told CTV News Edmonton.

Solomon speaks of an idea that blossomed from an initial 50 meal order. The owners of the former Buffet Royale (now calling itself Market Royale) hoped to have sponsored for the men and women of Strathcona County Fire Rescue.

But those fire fighters and paramedics had other ideas about where the food should go, and why. To Fort McMurray, and to people working tirelessly in an attempt to mitigate damage from flooding, just four years after wildfires ravaged the same city. 

Individual donors and companies like Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Meridian Fire Protection and Ruth’s Chris Steak House turned the 50 meals into nearly 700.

“And then it just skyrocketed to where it went from 50 meals to 694 meals” said Market Royale’s Werenka.

And the fire fighters decided getting the meals up to the people who need them, they would do that by finding their own sponsors.

“So the firefighters association had a local company donate a trailer, we’ve loaded up the trailer, and we’re going to drive it up to Fort Mcmurray and distribute it to front line workers in Fort McMurray” said Andrew Spence, a fire fighter paramedic and also the president of the Strathcona County Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Solomon says this is just one example of what’s become a nationwide initiative in just one month.

“If you think of what people on the front lines need, they need sustainance and they need support in many, many different ways. So what was happening in Fort McMurray is we found an amazing opportunity and the right people and the right connections in Edmonton to get a fairly massive amount of meals up to Fort McMurray.”.

Sustain The Line has now seen $100,000 worth of meals going to front line workers through mostly private donors. He says it’s now happening in 19 cities across North America.