During this challenging time, multiple businesses had to close their doors. In addition to affecting many workers, businesses suffered from a loss of income. Say Mercy! , The Mackenzie Room and several other restaurants came up with an innovative plan to help both their staff and the most vulnerable people in their community. Through the Staff Meals initiative, the public can purchase and donate nutritious meals at an affordable price. This new way of doing business has been a great way to both help the community and keep their restaurants' staff employed by keeping their kitchens active. Antonio Cayonne, operations manager and partner of the Collective Hospitality, was very kind answering our questions for this Good News.
"We started by talking through the ways we could support the staff we had to lay off. We put together a comfort menu of affordable "Take and Bake" options under $10 to make sure good food was accessible. We called it "The Staff Meal Initiative" - taken from the beloved restaurant term where staff eat together before their shift."
In addition to creating "The Collective Goods", comforting and affordable meals kits, they have created an e-commerce website where you can buy food for yourself as well as meals for people in need.
You can buy one Suspended Stew for $5 or feed 20 health workers for $ 50.
After the donations, they prepare and deliver the packages to the hospitals. For the Suspended Stews, people who need can purchase them online for free or contact them through Instagram. The Suspended Stews are available to pick up at 4298 Fraser St. and they are willing to make arrangements to deliver if the person really needs it.
"That first pebble-in-the-pond helped us figure out how to help our community, and scale our efforts to both help as many people as possible, and to re-open. We built an e-commerce site and began selling Take-Home meal kits for singles, couples, and families with the intent of being able to apply heat and eat. Choosing to not do the traditional take-out was easy for us as it wasn't in line with our passion, and with standard take-out food off the table, it invited the opportunity to re-think how we could open a pop-up restaurant essentially in your kitchen!"
"Overwhelming support. The community has helped us serve 4000+ meals to the community in various ways. Our regular diners have embraced the change and love the quality of our products as well as the innovation behind our model. We are able to help parts of our community that we might not have had access to, had we not created this model."
"The Staff Meal Initiative has had a variety of profound impacts- some seen, some unseen. We have had Frontline Workers share a tear explaining the value of how the meals make them feel appreciated and looked after at a time when they are quite vulnerable. School teachers use our program to make sure families don't suffer food insecurity. We have had people offer that our initiative makes them feel less alone."
"Moving forward, as the restaurants re-open Staff Meal Initiative will have its own website which will be used to buy meals for the community. Collective Goods will remain on Shopify (with a new web address). And the restaurants - Say Mercy and The Mackenzie Room - will be back online on their own sites."