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Winnipeg restaurants, businesses close amid COVID-19 pandemic, donate food to vulnerable

A group of Winnipeg restaurants and businesses that have closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic are donating food and making meal’s for the city’s vulnerable. Marney Blunt / Global News

A group of Winnipeg restaurants and businesses that have closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic are donating food and making meal’s for the city’s vulnerable.

The idea was spearheaded by chef Ben Kramer.

“We’re all unemployed now that rest are closed and no one has any work right now and we have some skills we can put to use,” Kramer told Global News.

The donated food — that could have potentially been tossed away — is being made into meals and donated to Main Street Project.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Harvest and food programs feeling pinch from coronavirus

“We’re just trying to centralize it. As cooks we have the ability to process and turns things into more than just what they are as a raw product,” Kramer said.

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“So we can take piles of raw cauliflower and turn it into a soup that would last a lot longer than just a head of cauliflower.”

The food is being prepared by Kramer and other chefs at Kitchen Sync in the Exchange District, which donated their space for the initiative.

“Last week was pretty bleak,” Kitchen Sync owner Sheila Bennet said.

“Neither of us having any business going on, it’s all been cancelled so it gives us something to do and lets us contribute to society.”

Kramer put out the call on Monday, and says he received an overwhelming response. By Wednesday morning, nearly 40 restaurants and businesses had stepped up, quickly filling up the walk-in cooler at Kitchen Sync.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: What’s open, closed — and cancelled — in Manitoba

“My phone is blowing up, my email blowing up, I’ve been trying to sift through it; the support has been overwhelming,” Kramer said.

“It blows my mind that businesses having to close and lay people off are still kind of focusing on taking care of people and helping people out.”

Kramer hopes the favour will be returned, and the public will support small restaurants and businesses in their time of need.

“All of these businesses that are jumping up to help are all struggling and might potentially not reopen, so if the public can help out and support these businesses in any way — by buying gift cards, some might be doing takeout, by financial contributions — then by the very least, once everyone gets back on their feet, to go out and support them and tip big and spend money as much as they can.”

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