EDITORIAL: Dining out helps feed less fortunate

Various programs allow diners to help out Greater Victoria's less fortunate

The restaurant business in Victoria has weathered hard times over the past few years, so it’s encouraging to see local eateries stepping up in terms of helping those who struggle to afford a meal and groceries.

In recent weeks, a trio of entrepreneurs launched Mealshare with a handful of downtown restaurants (Canoe, Zambri’s, Lido Waterfront Bistro and West Coast Waffles), where the purchase of a particular menu item means a meal is donated to Our Place Society.

At the same time, a charity called StreetSmart is running a two-month program with a group of restaurants (Sooke Harbour House, 10 Acres, Ça Va, Cafe Brio, Milestone’s, Pescatores, Cheryl’s Gourmet Pantry, Relish and The Marina Restaurant) that gives diners a way to donate cash to the Mustard Seed food bank through a restaurant bill.

If you are not in the habit of carrying around non-perishable food that are more often collected around Christmas time, adding a few bucks on a restaurant tab is a low-pressure way to help make sure the food bank has cash flow.

Thanks to generous deals with local grocers, food banks can stretch their dollars further –1.5 to two times more – than the average person in terms of buying food.

The Mustard Seed, the hub food bank that serves much of Greater Victoria and contributes to the food bank in Langford, constantly struggles to bring in enough donations and cash to serve the 5,000 people who can’t afford food for an entire month.

Increasingly, those are people who are employed but can’t make ends meet or senior citizens on fixed incomes.

Many local restaurants are already involved in charity efforts, and also support local farms and buying local, and should be applauded for extending that generosity.

As we transition into the Christmas season and hit the shopping malls and downtown stores, it’s worth remembering an unsettling number of people in this region struggle to get by. The social enterprises of Mealshare and StreetSmart can go a long way to make this time of year a little better for many fellow citizens.