ICYMI: Increased food insecurity across Canada, Calgary restaurants reopening and more

Here are seven food news stories you may have missed this week.   

For weeks now, food news have been dominated by concerns around the impact of COVID-19 on the supply chain, food security, manufacturers and diners. 

With the food supply chain being challenged by a shortage of labour, farmers are finding themselves throwing out a substantial amount of their crops due to lack of storage space and rotting.

While unemployment sky-rockets across the country, it is no surprise that the need for food banks is at an all-time high. Food banks are closing, and those that remain open are struggling to keep up with the demand. This has led grassroots groups like the Scarborough Food Security Initiative to take matters into their own hands.

Another grassroots initiative is feeding kids in need in Iqaluit. Creator of Breakfast in a Bag knew that kids receive much of the food they rely on at school, and with that cancelled, there was a gap left in their nutrition.

On the other side of the industry, restaurant goers are wondering if the dining experience will even resemble that they once knew. The changes that restaurants must make in order to maintain cleanliness and social distancing may change the restaurant experience completely for the foreseeable future.

Some restaurants don't have the luxury of figuring out what it will look like for customers post-COVID-19, Halifax restaurant, Studio East, announced its closure due to its inability to afford rent in the current economic climate, but will not give up on serving their Asian fusion cuisine to the masses. 

Finally, Brett Kissel announced that he will be holding a charity drive-in concert, just outside of Edmonton for Alberta Food Banks. 

Catch up on these stories, plus others, with our latest edition of ICYMI.

Excess food is being discarded in massive quantities worldwide

The issue of food wastage is nothing new, as the National Post notes that one-third of food produced ends up in a landfill. But what makes this situation different, is that the food is not even making it to the consumers houses to be thrown out. Current circumstances, including the overall lack of workers, are forcing farmers to be the ones throwing out the food. 

Farmers are used to working quickly, staggering between harvest and planting a new round of crops. This becomes an issue with COVID-19 when farms are stocked up to follow this pattern without the same demand, leaving them with backlog of crops.

This means that there is a frightening possibility that food insecurity, due to the rising food costs and job losses, could become a reality for more people than ever.

Read more about this in the National Post.

Scarborough Food Security Initiative is taking food insecurity into its own hands


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As food banks struggle to keep up with the growing demand for food, Scarborough volunteers are taking food security into their own hands. 

Suman Roy founded the Scarborough Food Security Initiative in a direct reaction to what he was seeing in his community, when only food bank had closed down, leaving those in need in the community hopeless and hungry. 

Even with the initiative's good intentions, one thing is standing in the way of delivering all the food that is needed: money. 

Roy and his team now deliver food to 1,000 families in need, which costs about $10,000, a number that will just keep rising as unemployment continues and need grows. 

Read more on this from CBC.

Disposable menus and spaced out tables will be the reality for post-COVID-19 dining


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Like many others, we are eager to dine in restaurants again, and we are curious as to how our the experience will be transformed.

Images of restaurants around the world going to interesting extremes are circulating like wildfire. Whether it be images of servers in hazmat suits, or shower curtains pulled between tables, experts say it won't look like that in Canada. 

General manager and co-owner of Winnipeg's Oxbow, Lucien Joyal, told CBC News that he expects to see a big change in the consciousness of diners, especially when it comes to standards of cleanliness. 

Instead of the post-apocalyptic measures some may be enacting, in Canada, it is more likely to look empty than anything. With different floor plans and table arrangements, separate entry ways and different interactions with staff, dining is going to look completely different for a long time. 

Read more on what reopening will look here at CBC.

Breakfast in a bag is making sure Iqaluit students are fed

Even without a global pandemic, those in the north are regularly impacted by food insecurity. Jason Rochon and his dedicated team of 30 volunteers are making sure that kids stay fed. 

Rochon, a student support assistant at a local school, has been running the school's breakfast program for the last seven years and has seen the difference it makes in the students' lives. So naturally, when schools closed on March 17, Rochon jumped into action to create the Breakfast in a Bag program, which hands out about 250 brown bags a day. 

Donations from businesses across Canada have enabled the program to give out nutritious breakfasts that include milk, cereal, fruit, cheese and yogurt. 

This program has been active for two months, and has been continuously making a difference in kids' lives.

Read more about it from Nunavut News.

Calgary and Brooks to reopen restaurants on May 25


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After the last minute decision from the Alberta government to bar Calgary and Brooks restaurants from opening on May 14, restaurant owners have been waiting anxiously to hear when it will be their turn. 

The announcement came on Friday May 22. Calgary and Brooks will be able to join the rest of the province in phase one of the reopening plan on May 25. This means that as of Monday, restaurants and bars will be allowed to open and serve guests. 

Premier Jason Kenney says that it is due to the success of opening of retailers in Calgary and Brooks. To date, this decision has not had an impact on infection numbers, which led the government to believe that the opening of restaurants is safe for these areas. 

Read more on this at Global News.

Halifax's Studio East announces permanent closure


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Studio East, an Asian fusion restaurant located in Halifax, has made the announcement that it will be closed permanently.

Like so many other restaurants, with the inability to pay rent due to the restaurant's halted income and their landlord unwilling to budge on payments, the decision to close had to be made. 

Open since 2015, the owners of this young restaurant are deeply saddened by this announcement. Although they will no longer be operating through a restaurant, the brothers told CBC that they are not willing to give up on their dream of serving food. They are looking to alternatives like catering and home meal preparation to help keep their passion alive. 

Even with the government stating that landlords cannot evict tenants as long as they can make up 25 per cent of rent, this was still not feasible for Studio East and many restaurants feel the same way. 

Read more on this story from Global News Halifax. 

Brett Kissel to hold drive-in country concert



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Country music star Brett Kissel believes that the best way to bring people together is through music. 

Even though concerts are cancelled for the near future, Kissel wanted to find a way to raise people's spirits and raise money for charity, all while following social distancing protocols. This led him to the concept of a drive-in concert. 

Kissel will be performing in the parking lot of the River Cree Resort and Casino, just outside of Edmonton, on June 13 to raise money for Alberta Food Banks, with 100 per cent of ticket sales being directly donated to them.  

This concert won't look anything like those you may be used to, with honking instead of clapping, no dancing and the concert lasting merely an hour. 

Find out more from The Edmonton Journal.