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April 2 | Banff Hospitality Collective collaborates with the Banff Food Rescue

As community leaders in food waste diversion, Banff Hospitality Collective (BHC) was able to avoid wasting perishable inventory when they made the difficult decision to shut the doors to 10 restaurants on March 18.

BHC created food packages for their staff and donated the remainder of fresh produce to the Banff Food Rescue. This initial donation is what Katie Tuff, Chief of Operations and Development at BHC, credits as the first introduction between her and Banff Food Rescue founder, Alanna Pettigrew.

“It was actually our health inspector that let us know that what Alanna really needed at that time was fridge space,” said Tuff. As donations continued to pour in from local restaurants, Park Distillery cleared out a fridge for the Banff Food Rescue’s use.

Additionally, Tuff built a webpage hosted on BHC’s site that houses forms for food requests for families and individuals, donation links, and a volunteer signup. The page was designed to centralize communications for Pettigrew. This page was critical to the Banff Food Rescue’s ability to increase its donations intake and delivery capacity and with the Banff Food Bank now closed, the logistical support from BHC has allowed the Food Rescue to better act in both capacities.

“Prior to now, we were serving 40 to 60 people over three days a week. In the last two weeks, we’ve increased to anywhere between 200 and 250. We’re also now delivering to individuals and families,” said Pettigrew, who fears that food supplies and access to affordable food will become an increasing concern for many as the pandemic continues. 

“BHC is food and we’ve always valued community initiatives within the organization. I’m happy that we could lend Alanna this skillset. She’s been working extremely tirelessly on this program,” said Tuff.

The Banff Food Rescue also acknowledges and thanks the many other businesses that have come together to support this much-needed community resource during these difficult times, including Gordon Food Service (GFS), Sysco, The Banff Legion and Pursuit.

April 1 | Sysco donates over 600 lbs of fresh produce to Lake Louise residents

Food wholesaler, Sysco, who supply many businesses with fresh produce, generously donated more than 600 pounds of perishable stock to Lake Louise residents on Tuesday, March 31. The delivery was distributed at the Fire Hall and was well received by the community.

“Everything was gone in just over two and a half hours. This was a huge bonus and morale lifter for the entire community,” said Jean-Marc Stelter‎, Municipal Councillor, Improvement District No.9, who coordinated with the Lake Louise Fire Department and RCMP to distribute the delivery.

Richard Yuh, general manager of the Mountain Restaurant and Husky in Lake Louise, initiated conversations with Sysco Food Services last week to make this happen and received an additional 60 pound shipment. “It was win-win. Sysco would have had to waste this product because they cater to many restaurants, which are now closed. I’m happy I could share it with my staff because fresh produce is expensive. In times of need, people tend to resort to junk food and this is a great way to keep staff healthy. Everyone was super grateful.”

According to Richard, the donation filled his walk-in fridge at the Mountain Restaurant, which closed late March. “At first we were going to divide it equally amongst the staff but with the amount that was delivered, we just said they could grab whatever they want.” His delivery will benefit his cafe and restaurant crew of ten that have been laid off.

Richard’s hard work doesn’t stop here. He is now in discussion with another commercial food service provider to see if they can obtain dry stock to complement what they currently have on hand. “I never expect anything. I just ask. If they say no, they say no.”

March 31 | Banff Sign Co. donates 1,500+ safety masks

As the Government continues to focus on the procurement of medical equipment that healthcare professionals require to combat the pandemic, a local signage company is doing its part to help the fight. Banff Sign Co. & have generously donated more than 1,500 disposable N95 safety masks to local medical facilities. 

Covenant Health and Canmore and Banff public health facilities accepted the majority of the donation. The excess went to Alberta Health Services (AHS). The masks are part of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by frontline health-care workers to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. 

“It's our hope that these supplies will help save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19 for front line workers and patients,” said Brendon Rayner, CCO and General Manager, Banff Sign Co.

AHS has stated it currently has an adequate supply of the N95 masks. It is ensuring proper use of the masks to avoid depletion of the supply. As we continue to battle the pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada is allocating $2 billion to purchase more PPE, including face masks.

Banff Sign Co. will temporarily close on April 3, 2020 to help flatten the curve, but will continue to provide limited services remotely from this time. The team looks forward to the continued mutual support of local businesses.

March 30 | The Grizzly House launches free food delivery service

One of Banff’s landmark eateries, The Grizzly House, is now offering a free food delivery service that provides people in need with homemade comfort food on every other day. Launched on March 26 in collaboration with the Town of Banff, the program predominantly targets Banff’s senior residents that may be in a difficult position to get groceries. Recipients can expect the menu to change frequently but can typically look forward to traditional meals such as roast chicken and mashed potatoes with homemade bread.

“Our team wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on the community, so I approached the Town and we decided we would focus on people in need. So far we are regularly delivering to 46 people and the recipients have been very grateful,” says Francis Hopkins, General Manager, Banff Grizzly house. “It’s creating a positive feeling for everyone involved. We just haven’t figured out how to deliver fondue yet. Just kidding.”

Deliveries are distributed from 4 p.m. on every other day. For more information and to see if you qualify, please contact Community Services at the Town of Banff at 403-762-1251.

March 27 | BLLT social channels inundated with heartwarming global support

After sharing the news that “awe-inspiring moments are now on hold”, we were inundated with hundreds of shares and supportive comments across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Having reached over a quarter of a million people across all platforms, the collective response was overwhelmingly positive, with tones of understanding and empathy. It is evident that not only our local community, but our global fans, including those facing postponed trips, have a desire to return with even more admiration once the situation improves. We are humbled by everyone’s love and support - and you will be too if you read the comments.

March 25 | Epic films for the great indoors now available online, for free

The Banff Centre is bringing its Mountain Film and Book Festival to you. They have curated a program of free Festival films that are available online for you to watch at home with your family. Find the show here.

March 24 | Local bartender offers up grocery gift cards for people in need

As news about layoffs started coming in from friends, neighbours and co-workers, Connor Gravelle felt compelled to contribute to the community in any way he could to help keep spirits high. The Banff bartender offered up four $50 gift cards to IGA to residents looking for support. He put the call out on the Facebook Group, Overheard in Banff, and the cards were gifted to people in need.

“A $50 gift card might not be a lot, but it is the gesture of feeling like you are not alone that can help you out through hard times,” he said. “Banff is a community that has given back to me in a way that I couldn't possibly pay back. This community has been amazing to me in times of need, so I wanted to do my part. I know it’s not a lot, but you can make a lot of pasta with $50.”

Last summer, Connor’s co-workers paid for a flight home so he could be with his family in a time of need. It was a gesture he says he is eternally grateful for. While he was also laid off, Banff has been home for five years, and he is here for the long haul and doing his best to unwind.

“I truly believe we will come out stronger as a community when this is all said and done. We have regained our humanity. We are looking out for each other. We are lowering the rent and buying groceries for our neighbours. We are calling people we haven't talked to in years. We are reading books. I wish we didn't need a global pandemic for us to realize this, but it really is beautiful seeing people come together.” 

March 23 | Banff Domino’s delivers 40 pizzas to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital

Comfort food is critical in times like these. It helps provide a distraction, gives a temporary sense of wellbeing, and makes you feel good. While we all need some stress relief right now, frontline healthcare staff in our community may need it most.

To help out, Banff Domino’s delivered 40 pizzas to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital on Saturday, March 21. The lunch-time delivery fed every member of the hospital staff. The Banff-location is also offering healthcare workers a free, small, two-topping pizza. Just call 403 760 3330 to ask for yours.

“It’s a stressful time. We always try to help out the community as best we can in times of need, and we know people need help right now,” said Sierra Blackwell, the manager with Banff Domino’s.

To safely feed the broader community, Domino’s is offering “contact-free delivery” as a way for people to get food without fear by removing any interactions in the process—pizzas can be left at the front door or at a reception desk.

March 21 | Lighting up Middle Springs

Anyone living in Middle Springs in Banff may see families out reinstalling their Christmas lights today.

Andrea Howie, community member and Lake Louise Ski Resort team member, said she was inspired by a Facebook Post by Amelie Petch. The post included a suggestion that everyone turn on their lights to spread some cheer and brighten up what has become a dark situation.

“Nobody knows how to react to any of this. I have two kids, seven and nine. People keep saying ‘this is our new normal,’ but nobody knows how long this will last. I thought, well maybe Christmas lights in March is the new normal.”

Adding, “to be honest, this gave us something to do together. We are trying to go with the flow and doing whatever we can to keep busy.”

Last night ten homes had their new March lighting on.

Note: out of respect for social distancing, BLLT is not encouraging members to go see these lights; we’re sharing this story as inspiration, in case others want to help light up the town for their neighbours.

March 20 | Park Distillery bottling and donating sanitizer for community use

March 20, we heard that Park Distillery is bottling and donating sanitizer solution to the Town of Banff’s Emergency Coordination Centre. According to Yannis Karlos, Banff Collective, their first batch of 250, 200ml bottles has now been delivered. 

“We are using the same equipment used for making our spirits,” he said. “though adjusting our process and keeping the strength higher.” 

The Town will distribute the sanitizer to the community free of charge, Karlos added.

Karlos has also been taking inquiries on producing high-proof alcohol for medical sterilization. They could be shipping product to a plant in Calgary, that is currently retooling to produce parts for ventilators and to service needs within our community. They plan to provide the sterilizer at cost.