August 30, 2016

Meals for Touchdowns

There’s nothing like personal experience to open a person’s eyes to a need.

When Nathan Satanove’s wife Carissa delivered the couple’s first child, Ari, born premature a couple of years ago, the wheels started turning on an innovative charitable project.

For every touchdown the Edmonton Eskimos score this year, the young president of the Sherwood Park-based Pasta Pantry & Trattoria has promised to deliver meals that feed parents temporarily living at Ronald McDonald House.

Through the first 10 weeks and 24 touchdowns, Pasta Pantry delivered 60 meals per touchdown for a total of 1,440 meals … and counting!

Satanove’s passion for sports and the restaurant business made for an ideal combination. This is the first year of the partnership with the Eskimos after the project kicked off with the FC Edmonton soccer team in 2015.

That meal-per-goal formula provided less chance for Satanove to express his appreciation and generosity than the meal-per-TD program which debuted this year.

“My son was in the NICU (neo-natal intensive care),” said Satanove. “We were only in there for five days. From what I saw in those five days, the families that come in from all over the country … it is the best place that your child can be, but it’s the last place you want to be with a newborn.

“My wife and I stayed at my son’s bedside for five days, but just seeing the families that came in, you need to eat. You need to have energy to be productive parents, otherwise you sit there and you’re drained.”

Satanove’s father Larry brought in meals into the hospital patient lounge from the restaurant he founded in 1992 which Nathan took over and expanded in 2009.

“He brought us way too much food,” said Satanove, 33. “There were other families sitting there and I’m seeing they’re eating a dry sandwich. We had lots of food, so I invited them over. Just seeing their demeanour after having a hot, home-cooked style meal was awesome. So, I had him bring us food every day.

“We started filling the fridge there and the morale was boosted in the NICU with the families.”

That’s where the idea kick-started to feed families whose children were under medical attention. Satanove had virtually grown up in his parents’ restaurant and the business was in his blood.

He contacted Ronald McDonald House and offered to pitch in and help with the good work that organization was already doing.

“I talked about how it helps feed families and it’s all volunteer-based,” said Satanove. “They have a very small budget for meals and I told them they didn’t have to worry about that any more.

About a month after Satanove put the bug in their ear, Ronald McDonald House took him up on his offer. Satanove’s staff quickly prepared and packaged 60 meals.

“I get a phone call a few hours later and he (Matt Mang) said ‘the food’s all gone,’ ” said Satanove.  “People took packages with them to the hospital. I said that’s great. I love doing community-based stuff and I’m a sports fanatic, so I said let’s have fun doing this.”

Satanove has drawn satisfaction from helping out those who were in a situation he and his wife endured. He’s satisfied that he has used his ability to make the Edmonton area a better community.

“I know what it’s like and saw a small glimpse of it,” said Stanove. “One gentleman had been there for seven months. They haven’t been able to go outside and play with their kids in the park or do anything like that. That really broke me down emotionally being there. It was my first child and we spent our first days there.

“I’m able to, so I did it.”

That’s not the end of the story. The Satanove family is expecting another child in the near future.