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What it’s like picking up 950 pounds of food in one day from restaurants shuttering due to COVID-19

Wow. I don’t think I will ever forget this day. My team and I spent hours visiting local restaurants, bakeries and cafes that have made the difficult decision to temporarily close. I talked to business owners and picked up food for Leftovers.

These conversations were emotional and heartbreaking. Restaurant owners across Calgary who’ve spent years working hard to build their businesses are facing situations they never could have imagined or planned for. They don’t know when their doors will re-open…if ever.

Leftovers has been inundated with calls from businesses who’ve made the difficult decision to shut their doors immediately, and don’t want the food they still have to go to waste. We collected more than 950 pounds of food todaywith 18 more restaurants waiting for pick up. Our stops today included Ten Foot Henry, a lovely restaurant that consistently tops best of lists. They made the difficult decision to temporarily close today. They donated nearly 100 pounds of food. Here’s what that looks like.

This food will go to service agencies across the city like the Calgary Drop-In Centre, Calgary Dream Centre, Emma House and Alpha House. It will feed hungry and vulnerable Calgarians. This is important. These agencies, and the people who rely on them, are under immense stress right now. At both Leftovers and Fresh Routes, we’re seeing that access to food has never been more difficult for so many Calgarians. Whether you’re a child who relies on a school nutrition program for breakfast, a millennial who just lost your job, or a senior who can’t leave your home.

I wear many hats…I work as the head of a non-profit (Leftovers), a social enterprise (Fresh Routes), a small business (Hive Developments) and a spa (Soma Calgary). I have never seen something that hits all of us, whether business or non-profit, so incredibly hard. Business owners are being forced to figure out how they will put food on their table and pay their employees while their doors are closed. Non-profits are dealing with insane demands.

We’re all in this together, Calgary, and we need to remember that everyone is doing the best they can. I urge everyone to show a little extra compassion and kindness right now. We also need political leadership on all levels of government to come together to help both businesses and non-profits.  We will get through this. I’ll be back at it tomorrow, with my team, gathering food from Calgary restaurants/cafes/bakeries choosing to temporarily close. We have 18 stops on our list, so far. Take a second to think about that. That’s 18 Calgary business owners dealing with some of the hardest decisions they’ve ever made. And dozens/hundreds of staff they’re worried about. I hope we will come out of this stronger.