Nova Scotia

As COVID-19 ravages N.S. hospitality industry, some establishments helping people in need

Despite dire times for Nova Scotia's hospitality industry, some establishments are switching gears during the COVID-19 pandemic to help community groups that provide help to clients in need.

'This was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to really step up when it counts the most'

Renée Lavallée and Doug Townsend own The Canteen in Dartmouth, N.S. They recently made the decision to transition their cooking space into a community kitchen. (The Canteen)

Despite dire times for Nova Scotia's hospitality industry, some establishments are switching gears during the COVID-19 pandemic to help community groups that provide help to clients in need.

In Dartmouth, acclaimed restaurant The Canteen has transitioned its cooking space into a community kitchen to help the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre and Margaret's House (Feeding Others of Dartmouth Society), which are organizations that feed people who can't afford to eat healthy meals.

The Canteen will prepare between 300 to 400 meals a week for these groups beginning Monday.

"This was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to really step up when it counts the most," said Doug Townsend, who owns The Canteen with his wife, Renée Lavallée.

Like many restaurants, The Canteen had to make the difficult decision to lay off most of its 30-person team because of COVID-19.

About 24,500 food service jobs have been lost in Nova Scotia's restaurant industry because of the pandemic.

"Renée and I believe that to get through this thing, it's all about people caring for each other and looking out for one another," Townsend said.

The Good Robot Brewing Company opened in May 2015 in Halifax. It's resurrecting a program that raises money for non-profit groups. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

In Halifax, revenues for The Good Robot Brewing Company have dropped 80-90 per cent since COVID-19 hit Nova Scotia. The brewery has had to lay off most of its staff and has transitioned its business model to e-commerce and takeout and delivery.

Before the pandemic shut down dine-in establishments and bars, the brewery was already helping non-profit organizations through its Goodwill Bot initiative.

Every Monday, the brewery would host an awareness and fundraising event for a non-profit. A dollar from every pint sold in the taproom during these events would be donated to the non-profit. In four years, more than $60,000 was raised.

"Obviously that incentive went down the toilet a couple of weeks ago when we closed our public spaces," said Joshua Counsil, a founder of Good Robot.

But the program is coming back this week in a different form.

$1 from every purchase on Mondays going to non-profit

Starting Monday, $1 from every online, takeout and delivery order on that day of the week will go toward helping a non-profit.

This week's beneficiary is Adsum for Women and Children, a Halifax shelter.

Counsil said Colin Smith, Good Robot's goodwill ambassador, came up with the idea to help Adsum.

"With everyone trapped inside ... one of my friends mentioned they were concerned about cases of domestic violence increasing in this climate, and sure enough they have," Counsil said.

Good Robot co-founder Joshua Counsil says he's 'personally inspired by the folks at Adsum because they are continuing to give without asking.' (Submitted by Joshua Counsil)

"Especially where Adsum is providing a physical space, a safe space for people ... they seem to be in extra need."

When COVID-19 began leading to the closure of establishments, Counsil said his first thought was about "how to stop my own ship from sinking." But he said helping out an organization like Adsum puts everything into perspective.

"There are people who are doubling down on their already generous nature, so I'm personally inspired by the folks at Adsum because they are continuing to give without asking," he said.

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.

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