2020 has been a year loaded with hardships and hurdles for Canada’s hospitality industry. According to a report released this week from Restaurants Canada, the majority of the country’s restaurants are currently operating at a loss, and as things stand, roughly half of Canada’s foodservice operators expect to close permanently within the next six months.
Yet despite the seemingly endless amount of obstacles that continue to come its way, Canada’s food and beverage community continues to provide avenues–whether through food or funds–for Canadians to support marginalized parts of the country's population.
From a unique and eye-catching initiative at Vancouver’s Anthem Pizza that provides emergency relief for struggling musicians to a Saskatoon cafe filling their unused seating areas with food bank donations, to restaurants like Honey Salt and Paramount Fine Foods combating food insecurity through charitable meal deliveries, here are some of the ways our foodservice sector is giving back this holiday season.
One of the most creative and buzzworthy new restaurants in Vancouver, Anthem Pizza, recently unveiled a unique initiative featuring two limited-edition pizzas, themed boxes, and t-shirts that pay tribute to popular television show Corner Gas Animated.
For every Corner Gas Animated-edition pizza or t-shirt sold, Anthem is donating 10 per cent of its proceeds to the Unison Benevolent Fund, which helps Canadian musicians with counselling and emergency relief services during times of hardship, illness, or economic difficulties. Not long after its launch last week, Corner Gas Animated announced that it will match donations of up to $10,000.
In general, Anthem Pizza has dedicated partial monthly sales to charitable initiatives.
Last month, Alberta-based online meat delivery service Bessie Box announced that for the months of November and December the company would donate 1 lb of meat to the Calgary Drop-In Centre and Edmonton’s Leftovers Foundation for every Bessie Box ordered.
So far, the start-up company has already contributed more than 150 lbs of meat to the two charities.
City Perks Coffeehouse
After restrictions forced Saskatoon’s City Perks to put a pause on its dine-in services, the local institution launched a unique campaign filling its unused space with non-perishable goods to support the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre.
Donations can be dropped off at City Perks anytime between now and December 22 (Mondays to Saturdays between the hours of 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.).
Corby Spirit and Wine
Last week, Corby Spirit and Wine announced a $100,000 donation to the Bartenders Benevolent Fund to provide much-needed financial support for service industry professionals facing hardships due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Allocated based on need, the fund is currently open to industry workers from across the country, and is expected to benefit a minimum of 400 bartenders. Corby is also slated to release a coffee table book in the near future featuring more than 100 cocktail recipes from Canadian bars and restaurants. Proceeds from the sales of this cocktail book will also go toawrds the fund.
Glowbal Restaurant Group
Since it began its COVID-19 relief efforts last March, the Glowbal Restaurant Group has delivered more than 12,000 meal donations to frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable community groups.
From December 10 to 20, Vancouver’s Glowbal Restaurant Group will be celebrating its inaugural 10 Days of Glowbal Giving, during which each of the collective’s 10 restaurants will prepare ready-to-eat meals to be delivered by Vancouver Firefighter Charities and Vancouver Food Runners to five local charities on a rotating basis.
For the entire month of December, Honey Salt at Parq Vancouver will be preparing hundreds of gourmet meals to be delivered to Girls Who LEAP, a volunteer-run non-profit organization that provides leadership and mentorship opportunities for vulnerable youth in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Grandview Woodland communities.
Like other Vancouver-based charitable meal campaigns before it, Honey Salt has enlisted the help of Vancouver Firefighter Charities, who have graciously volunteered their time and resources to make the deliveries.
Main Street Brewing
Main Street Brewing is currently in the midst of its 12-day Miracle on Main Street drive, during which the Vancouver brewery will provide patrons with a complimentary flight of beer and an entry into its December giveaway series when they drop off a toy or gift card.
The brewery is also donating a portion of its proceeds from the entire month of December to The Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau, whose goal is to ensure that the holiday season is a special time for every child, regardless of circumstance.
Chef, author, and co-owner of Vancouver’s iconic Vij’s, Meeru Dhalwala, recently joined forces with Ubuntu Canteen, Burdock and Co, Autostrada Osteria, and The Acorn to launch the MOSAIC + local restaurant project.
MOSAIC is a BC organization that helps newcomers build their lives and settle into Canadian society. Dhalwala, who sits on the board of MOSAIC, developed the project expansion to help restaurants stay afloat through the winter season by sharing the fun and adventure of the coalition’s cuisines with new immigrant and refugee families.
The MOSAIC gift card option can be found on each participating restaurant’s website. Direct donations to support MOSAIC can be found online.
Paramount Fine Foods
It seems like the Paramount Fine Foods family has been busy giving back to those in need since the onset of the pandemic, but their most recent charitable endeavour is a Canada-wide meal campaign in partnership with Coke Canada Bottling and Sysco Canada.
For every $50 spent at one the Middle Eastern restaurant chain eateries, Paramount will donate a meal to a family in need. Paramount has also given its patrons the option to offer additional donations when they place an order online.
After launching its annual holiday season campaign to spread inclusivity and to celebrate the importance of chosen families, RITZ recently announced a $100,000 donation to aid Canadians in the ongoing fight against food insecurity.
The donation will directly support the efforts of Food Banks Canada, Moisson Montréal, Calgary Food Bank, and Daily Bread Food Bank.
Share the Harvest
The 18th annual Share the Harvest initiative kicked off this fall in Edmonton and--with the help of the Grow Hope Project--was able to harvest 295 acres of canola crop in support of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. This year, the tandem is offering individuals the opportunity to sponsor crops for the cause through its “virtual farmer” partnership program.
Share the Harvest hopes to raise a total of $120,000, which can then be matched with grants from the federal government. Donations can currently be made online.