Nova Scotia

N.S. businesses deliver thousands of sandwiches to those in need during COVID-19

It started with a simple idea: use leftover lunch money to help people in need during the pandemic. Three months later, local businesses in Nova Scotia have delivered thousands of sandwiches and sweets to people in need.

Give Us Your Lunch Money program delivered 5,000 sandwiches and 7,000 sweets in 3 months

Julien's Bakery in Chester, N.S., has been able to keep its staff working during the pandemic thanks to the project. (Give Us Your Lunch Money/Facebook)

It started with a simple idea: use leftover lunch money to help people in need during the pandemic.

Three months later, a bakery in Chester, N.S., has delivered thousands of sandwiches and sweets to food banks and service organizations while at the same time providing work for staff and supporting local producers.

It's the good kind of community spread, said Laura Mulrooney, the owner of Julien's Bakery and one of the people behind Give Us Your Lunch Money.

During the pandemic, her bakery, along with The Other Bean in Halifax and Chester's Cafe in Chester, made and delivered 5,000 sandwiches and 7,000 sweets to organizations who feed the hungry from Halifax to Bridgewater.

Laura Mulrooney delivers sandwiches to Alex Bickerton at St. George's Church on Saturday. (Laura Mulrooney)

The idea started when Mulrooney's brother gave her spare change he would have spent on parking and lunch, but no longer needed since he was working from home.

Mulrooney decided to ask her customers to pitch in as well.

"People were very generous," she said. "Some people gave us $1,000 and some people gave us $10, and my favourites were people who just kept giving every week, $10, $20, $50. I called them serial donors and that really meant a lot to us."

A huge help to shelters

Give Us Your Lunch Money raised $20,000.

Some of the food was delivered to the Adsum for Women and Children shelter in Halifax where volunteers used to make food for clients but could no longer do that because of the coronavirus.

"So it was up to staff to prepare the meals and so when Laura called and she told us about the program, we were very excited because that was a huge help to us," said Fiona Lochhead, household co-ordinator at Adsum.

Cassandra Boutilier helped make sandwiches every Saturday during the pandemic. (Laura Mulrooney)

In the process of helping others, Mulrooney said she also helped her small business and many others. She kept her staff employed and could still buy from local producers unable to sell at farmers markets due to the province's restrictions.

Cassandra Boutilier, who works at Julien's, said she's loved being part of the initiative.

"It's a really good feeling knowing that it's going to people who need it," she said. "So we make sure the sandwiches are made really, really well. They've got lots of meat on them. They're really tasty."

A number of support services in Halifax and on the South Shore have been recipients of the regular sandwich delivery. (Give Us Your Lunch Money/Facebook)

This past weekend was the last delivery of sandwiches to St. George's, a shelter in Chester, but while the project has wrapped up, Mulrooney said she's thankful for the relationships she's formed with non-profits.

"They could definitely give us a shout and if there was a way we could help them out, we would," she said.

With files from Carsten Knox

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