Local restaurants have been working hard to make life a little easier for front line workers.
“We are here to help as much as we can,” said Michelle Shabatura, owner of Farmer’s Daughter. The Hwy 60 grocer and café has been providing 200 meals to employees of Huntsville and District Memorial Hospital three times a week in an effort to make life for the valuable workers a little less stressful.
There have been a lot of offers to donate food for the hospital employees from individuals, but according to Katherine Craine, executive director of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, meals for the employees have to be made in a commercially inspected kitchen. And each meal has to be individually packaged.
“We have the best facility to facilitate that,” said Shabatura, adding that the knowledge and expertise of her staff is very suited to the task. There are normally 25 staff at work. Currently there are six.
While Shabatura is providing all the staff and donating a lot of the food, she said they are also reliant on donations from other local businesses. Moose Delaney’s and Whimsical Bakery have provided product but the need is still there for others to step forward. “We need donations of potatoes, bread, meat, pasta, cheese, mayonnaise, eggs, anything,” she said. Even the packaging for all the meals is an expense. A donation jar at the front of the store allows individuals to make cash donations.
Craine added they are also directing people inquiring how they can help to go the the Huntsville Hospital Foundation website and make a donation to the COVID-19 fund. “We can’t expect restaurants to provide 100 per cent of the donation,” she said.
Shabatura said they are providing a sandwich and a salad all made from scratch, but nothing that needs to be heated. For example, a bean salad and egg salad sandwich was on the menu for one day, while another day was a selection of roast beef sandwiches and a potato salad.
The Farmer’s Daughter has been affected by COVID-19, as has every business. Her grocery business has remained open and Shabatura said her staff was really ahead of the game in terms of caution in this time of fear. “We limit the number of shoppers,” she said. “We have hand sanitizer at the door and gloves if people want them. Carts are left by the cash and wiped down and social distancing is in place.”
In addition, the store has provided a private shopping experience. People can book a span of 15 minutes for two people to enter the store and shop alone.
“It has been very popular,” she said. “We started it about a week ago and it is really coming together.”
The store had also been working on a website for a year, which came together two weeks ago, for people to go online and make an order for delivery or pick up.
The Farmer’s Daughter and the Huntsville Hospital Foundation were working together long before the pandemic began. Every Friday, $2 of every coffee and muffin purchase went to the foundation. So when the need for meals occurred, they did not hesitate to step in.
The staff at the hospital are extremely grateful for the donation of food, Crane said. “It is one less thing they have to worry about,” she said of knowing they don’t have to pack a lunch when heading to work. She added it also provides peace of mind for the staff knowing the community is thinking about them and want them to stay healthy.
Pita Pit and Tim Hortons have also provided meal donations for hospital workers, and Comfort Bakeshop has provided individually wrapped cookies.
Tim Hortons and Pita Pit have also provided meals for hospital staff. (Huntsville Hospital Foundation / Facebook)
Staff at Fairvern Nursing Home have also been the recipients of a goodwill gesture. Boston Pizza has provided pizza at a discounted price for the three shifts of employees at the Huntsville long-term care centre.
They had called in an order, said Boston Pizza’s assistant general manager, Lori Maillet. Her immediate response was that they could help with the cost of the order. “I was absolutely ecstatic that we could help,” she said. “We always want to support locally and front line workers in general. We were excited to be able to reach out.”
The downtown restaurant delivered 17 large pizzas over the course of the day. She added that plans are underway to provide a pasta day for the staff.
The restaurant has shut its doors to sit-down service but are still operating take out and delivery service. “It is doing quite well,” Maillet said.
Boston Pizza donated part of the cost of pizzas for Fairvern Nursing Home staff and including positive messages to bolster their spirits. (Fairvern Nursing Home / Facebook)
That Little Place by the Lights is also making a contribution to frontline workers, providing several personal lasagnas and cannelloni to staff at the assessment centre on Howland Drive for a couple of days.
It was just set up last week, said Lyndsey Buttus, one of the owners of the Main Street restaurant. “They contacted us and asked if we would be willing to donate and we said yes,” she said. “It goes to a good cause and keeps them fueled.”
That Little Place has also been forced to shut down its sit-down service but are providing delivery of pre-ordered prepared meals. People can access the delivery menu on their Facebook page or Instagram or can contact the restaurant directly. Orders are made at the beginning of the week and the meals are delivered at the end of the week.
Do you know of other local restaurants or businesses that are supporting frontline workers in some way? Give them a shout-out in the comments below!
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