Despite the numerous challenges Canadian hospitality businesses are facing as they navigate a new and unfamiliar landscape, the Canadian food and drink community has remained steadfast in its commitment to give back during the pandemic.
In addition to launching programs that provide financial and food security to those who have been hit the hardest, initiatives like Saskatoon personality Derek Watson’s #WeGotThis are driving support for the marginalized and vulnerable.
Here are some more ways Canada's food community is giving back during the pandemic.
Turkey Farmers of Canada
After launching The Wishbone Project in April to help those affected by COVID-19 through funds and food, the Turkey Farmers of Canada recently announced a donation of $80,000 to the Kids Help Phone and 4-H Canada.
The donation will directly support programs that provide mental health-related resources and assistance to youth in rural communities. So far, The Wishbone Project has raised more than $150,000.
We got this YXE
Saskatoon personality Derek Watson recently started a t-shirt drive to raise money for Saskatoon’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund. Since the beginning May, the We Got This campaign has raised over $10,000 in support of Saskatoon's marginalized and vulnerable through agencies like Saskatoon Response to COVID-19, Saskatoon Community Foundation, and United Way of Saskatoon and Area.
Vancouver Firefighter Charities
The Vancouver Firefighter Charities (VFC) have been extremely active in giving back during the pandemic. Most recently, VFC decided to get in the holiday spirit early by purchasing $65,000 worth of toys and sports equipment to be donated to families in need this December.
Each year, VFC’s Toys for Kids program partners with the Lloyd & Elsie Campbell Foundation and the Vancouver Foundation to provide hundreds of wrapped gifts to at-risk youth. This year, VFC has committed to shopping exclusively at small businesses to support the local community.
Organic Ocean, Chefs’ Table Society of BC, and LunchLAB:Chefs for Families
After the Chefs’ Table Society of BC’s (CTS) 14th annual Spot Prawn Festival was cancelled due to physical distancing restrictions, Organic Ocean announced it will be donating 100 pounds of their first catch of spot prawns to feed families in need through the LunchLAB:Chefs for Families program.
Additionally, on June 4 and 5, prominent Vancouver chefs and CTS members, including Will Lew, Dennis Peckham, Nicole Gomes, and Mariana Gabilondo, will join the the LunchLAB chefs to create a CTS signature Spot Prawn Festival Chowder, which will be delivered to more than 120 families in need.
Rogers and Jay Care Foundation
In response to the growing need for storage space at many of Canada’s food banks, Rogers and Jays Care Foundation recently announced the launch of the Step up to the Plate initiative.
The initiative will see the home of the Blue Jays transformed into a space to house 10 million pounds of food that will be sorted into food hampers on the field and delivered across the country to families in need. Hundreds of Rogers employees and their families will be volunteering to help the initiative reach its goal of 8 million meals.
Last month, London Drugs began offering shelf space to smaller businesses that were forced to close their doors due to COVID-19. Since the drug store chain announced the Local Central initiative, more than 1,200 Western Canadian companies have submitted products for consideration to be made available on London Drugs’ store shelves.
Though the application process is now closed, visitors can now support the local businesses that were granted shelf space at London Drugs’ Local Central page.
Last week, Moët Hennessy in Canada launched a national program to provide support to the country’s hospitality sector. To kick off the Coming Together campaign, The Maison Hennessy is donating $50,000 to the Bartenders Benevolent Fund.
Follow the hashtag #ComingTogether on social media to learn more about the campaign and its various initiatives.
Jak’s Beer Wine Spirits
For the entire month of May, Jak’s Beer Wine Spirits partnered with Drink Well Imports to donate $10 from every bottle of Isle of Harris Gin to the BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF) to help support laid-off servers and bartenders.
The B.C.-based chain also capped off the month-long initiative by donating 10 per cent of its total sales on the final day to local food banks. Last year, the Jaks Gives Back initiative raised over $20,000.