ICYMI: Food inspectors contract COVID-19, Ottawa's local solution to delivery apps and more

Get caught up on some of the biggest Canadian food and drink news stories of the past week

Unsurprisingly, this week's food news is an aggregate of reactions to decisions and news around COVID-19.

Issues arose this past week when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced that 40 of its food inspectors had tested positive for COVID-19. Canadians are worried about the safety of the workers, their food and the beef industry as a whole. 

Residents of Calgary and Brooks will be relying on food delivery services for a little longer now that the government made the last-minute decision to exclude them from the reopening plan on May 14th. Meanwhile restaurants in Edmonton are enjoying their new found freedom.

Elsewhere in the Prairies, after a decade of award-winning service and food, Segovia announced its permanent closure. This announcement comes as a heartbreaking surprise to many. 

Even for restaurants that are surviving, perhaps with the help of food delivery services, the fees from traditional services charge are a tough pill to swallow for small businesses. This is why "Love Local Delivery" was launched in Ottawa, which is a low-fee delivery service.

The Neighbourhood Organization in Toronto recognized the increased need for food banks during this time. So, they got to work to launch a new food collaborative to help those who are struggling. 

Here are six of the biggest Canadian food and drink news stories from the past week.

New food bank launched in Toronto's east end


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In an effort to support struggling individuals and newcomers living in the Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park neighbourhoods, The Neighbourhood Organization recently launched a new food collaborative that sees multiple agencies coming together to provide food to those in need. The collaborative receives food donations at a warehouse on the city's east end, which are then sorted into boxes and delivered directly to the homes of residents.

Read more about this great new community project in this CBC Toronto feature.

40 Canadian food inspectors tested positive for COVID-19

A large number of Canadian food inspectors are contracting COVID-19 during processing plant inspections and, as a result, renewed serious concerns arise about the safety of workers placed in these environments day-in and day-out.

As well, since more than half of the cases are in Alberta, it's causing the beef industry to further worry about what these series of events may have on its reputation long-term.

Read more about this in the full CBC News story.

Last minute decision by the Alberta government hurts restaurants in Calgary and Brooks


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Hoping to be once again serving customers on May 14, restaurants like Starbelly and Craft Beer Market stocked up on thousands of dollars worth of ingredients only to find out in less than 24 hours to opening that the dine-in restrictions would be extended to May 25. The owners of the businesses are now looking to the Alberta government for reimbursement.

Read more about the frustrations of local restaurateurs in this Calgary Herald piece.

Canadian restaurants and bars slowly begin to reopen to the public

On the flipside in Alberta, Edmonton area restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen on Thursday, May 14 to a maximum of 50 per cent capacity. Although Edmonton restaurants are allowed to open, only chains and a few small independent eateries have chosen to. Many of the top restaurants such as Biera and Bündok are waiting out the pandemic for a while longer.

Last week, New Brunswick restaurants were able to reopen at reduced seating capacity and as of this weekend, bars and taprooms can now resume operations as well. In Manitoba, restaurants have been permitted provide sit-down patio service for nearly two weeks, but dining inside has still not been green-lit as of yet.

Read more about New Brunswick's return to normalcy in this CBC News piece and about Edmonton's first few days of reopening in this story.

One of Canada's top restaurants, Segovia, announces permanent closure


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A much-celebrated staple in Winnipeg's food scene made an announcement on May 14 that after a decade of service, their doors would be closed for good. Known for their award-winning contemporary Spanish cuisine and signature dishes such as their mascarpone-stuffed dates, the restaurant will be missed.

Read more about the owners' decision to close in this piece by the Winnipeg Free Press.

Ottawa restaurateurs launch local delivery service


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Dubbed "Love Local Delivery", the service now has more than 60 restaurants on board. Unlike the the substantial charges a restaurant can incur from apps like UberEats or Skip The Dishes (an average of 25 to 30 per cent of a person's bill), Love Local Delivery has a flat fee of $5 on a customer's bill, which the restaurant pays $2 of.

The astronomical costs of using a third party delivery app continue to narrow whatever margin a restaurant might be making off of take-out and delivery during the pandemic.

Read more about this interesting new delivery alternative in this Ottawa Citizen feature.