University of Calgary

Power of a sandwich

U of C student Rob Aronson founded Spread the Love to help feed the homeless.
U of C student Rob Aronson founded Spread the Love to help feed the homeless. / Photo: courtesy Alberta Credit Unions

BHSc student’s simple idea for feeding the homeless blossoms into a province-wide non-profit organization

By Jacob Hardy

Walking down the halls of the O’Brien Centre, Miles Robert Aronson—known as Rob—looks like any other student at the University of Calgary. However, in his spare time, Aronson doubles as the founder and CEO of a non-profit organization that aspires to fight the global crisis of hunger.

Now a second-year student in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program in the Faculty of Medicine, Aronson’s devotion to public service began at age 15 when he organized a small group of volunteers to make sandwiches and distribute them to the homeless.

Six years later, his initiative has blossomed into an inspiring project, becoming an official non-profit organization in the summer of 2008 known as Spread the Love.

In Aronson’s own words, Spread the Love “mobilizes communities to combat hunger through the simple power of the sandwich.” So it was only fitting that Aronson chose an off-campus burger joint to discuss his organization, which has so far delivered more than 29,000 sandwiches to the hungry.
Aronson reflects on the growth of his organization and its humble beginnings. “We didn’t even have a name, a logo or a website. We had nothing. It was just an idea.”

University of Calgary Spread the Love volunteers make sandwiches for the homeless, sponsored by APEX Credit Union and Paintearth

University of Calgary Spread the Love volunteers make sandwiches for the homeless, sponsored by APEX Credit Union and Paintearth Energy Services. All U of C students are welcome to join our U of C Spread the Love Club! Visit APEX in the ICT building to pick up your membership card.
That idea spawned a monthly gathering of volunteers in Cochrane, and then grew into a movement that mobilized communities in more than nine cities across Alberta.

The central vision of the organization is to provide food to the hungry, but an equally important goal is to inspire youth.

Aronson says the organization serves as a leadership and education opportunity. Through involvement in the program, young leaders can gain confidence, fulfillment and a better understanding of the world around them.

Spread the Love is unique in its simplicity by serving the needs of Alberta’s hungry through simple culinary effort. The sandwich accounts for most basic nutritional groups, is filling and, most importantly, pretty much anyone can make one.

The work of Spread the Love has recently been recognized with the YMCA Calgary Peace Medal and by being named the Alberta Credit Union’s Agent4Change. The organization is looking to expand further in Alberta and across Canada.

Aronson’s story demonstrates the power of individual action—how anyone can stand up and act within their community. This part-time student, part-time hunger-fighting CEO is truly a testament to his own mantra.


To learn more about Spread the Love, visit www.spreadthelove.ca, find Spread the Love on Facebook or contact Rob Aronson at aronson@ucalgary.ca or mra@spread-the-love.ca.

— Reprinted from February’s On Campus