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Discarding food unnecessary for Saskatchewan restaurants as need for donations grows

Table to trash not necessary for restaurants as need for fresh-food donations grows
WATCH: While most restaurants can no longer sell their food to customers, they may not need to throw it in the trash.

A restaurant throwing away food is akin to a bank throwing away money.

But for some Saskatchewan restaurants, the COVID-19 pandemic has put them in that very position.

With thousands of layoffs and closures, the novel coronavirus has hit the food-service industry hard. For one Saskatoon restaurant group, the result is a seemingly useless stockpile of perishable food.

READ MORE: 25,000 food-service jobs lost in Saskatchewan during COVID-19: survey

“Having that immediate closure — we understand the reason behind it, but it does provide a lot of waste that we’re unable to do anything with,” Taste Restaurant Group co-owner Carmen Hamm told Global News.

“We make a lot of products ourselves, which means that there’s not really a lot of use outside of the context with which we make them.”

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Chopped vegetables, homemade dipping sauces and tapped kegs of beer won’t keep, she said.

Staff at the group’s four restaurants have grocery-shopped in the coolers and the organization has frozen as much food as possible. Much of what’s left can’t go to Saskatoon’s food bank, which only accepts non-perishables.

Food bank operations director Deborah Hamp said there’s been an increase in non-perishable food donations from restaurants.

“It’s been very much appreciated that all of the restaurants in Saskatoon have been so generous with those donations,” she said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Food Banks of Saskatchewan launches fundraising campaign

That doesn’t mean perishables have to go in the trash, though. 

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As pandemic-induced financial woes grow, several Saskatoon organizations are accepting fresh-food donations to prepare meals for community members.

Staff from the Friendship Inn, the Lighthouse, White Buffalo and EGADZ all confirmed they’re accepting perishable food donations. EGADZ, a youth drop-in centre, is running low on perishables.

“We want to give people healthy food, not just empty carbs,” EGADZ executive director Don Meikle said. “We want to actually give them food that’s going to fill them up, that’s going to help with their mental health.”

Hamm said that’s a positive for local restaurants in a particularly challenging time.

“To be able to have a place that we can offer our food is great news that it will go to good use,” she said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.