As the pandemic drags on through the third wave, the city of Calgary is attempting to find new ways to keep people fed – and help businesses survive.
A new giving wall project was spearheaded by members of Calgary’s business sector task force. These giving walls can be found in participating restaurants across the city.
Calgary food writer Julie Van Rosendaal was the member who brought this idea to the task force. It was born out of the worry that people – kids especially – were cut off from their reliable food sources during the pandemic.
“I’m particularly worried about kids who are separated from their food supports at school right now and that’s almost 200,000 kids throughout the city,” Van Rosendaal said.
A lot of them are mobile, can move around and hop on their bikes and walk into a restaurant or coffee shop and access a meal if they need one.”
As schools closed and kids went back home due to the recent restrictions from the province to combat the third wave, the need became evident.
Helping businesses along the way
While being a vital and charitable way to give back to people who need it, the giving walls also present an opportunity for businesses to keep some revenue coming in.
This is tied to the way the walls work. If someone comes in to pick up a meal for takeout, they can buy an item on the menu relevant to the restaurant or eatery they’re at. This item is represented by a gift card or receipt and is then left on the wall for someone to come in and use.
This is a source of income that otherwise would’ve been lost. People who wouldn’t normally be able to buy something can get a meal, while their benefactor helps the restaurant.
Shosh Cohen, co-owner of La Boulangerie, said she’s happy to support the program.
“I think it’s helping everyone on all kinds of levels, money-wise, mental-wise. Even just to come here, it’s their happy place, that’s what I’m trying to create here. When people come here, there are no bad days. The pandemic doesn’t go through this door,” Cohen said, in a prepared media release.
While the program is still in its early stages, Van Rosendaal is happy to see the progress that’s been made.
“They’re all so willing to help, and it’s great to see how communities are helping feed each other. The fact is that the funds are going through the restaurants and helping them stay afloat, which helps people stay employed and further prevents food insecurities,” Van Rosendaal said.
Restaurants and café’s looking to participate in this program can download some signage from the city of Calgary website.