Hospitality industry rallies to feed vulnerable Canadians
Ottawa’s hospitality community has stepped up in a major way to support local seniors and other vulnerable citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of provincially-mandated restaurant closures, restaurateur Abbis Mahmoud (The Waverly, The Moscow Tea Room) decided to make use of his vast supplier and partner network, and launch Operation Ramzieh, a food donation service dedicated to feeding the city’s most vulnerable. Operation Ramzieh is named for Mahmoud’s mother, whose practice of feeding those in need in her home country of Lebanon inspired the project.
The operation, the Ottawa chapter of which is based out of Mahmoud’s Elgin Street restaurant The Waverly, prepares and delivers food kits free of charge to vulnerable citizens. Food kits are valued at around $30 and are estimated to feed a person for 10 days. Kits include essential items including dry goods (rice, pasta), bread, fruit, and vegetables. To protect volunteers and recipients, gloves and masks are worn at all times by volunteers, and kits are delivered to recipients’ front steps to minimize contact.
In an Instagram post, the project shared that though their focus is on feeding seniors, anyone who is immunocompromised, short on funds, or faces other obstacles to obtaining groceries may apply for a kit. A newly-founded Toronto chapter is based out of Dundas West eatery Old School.
Mahmoud kicked off the project on March 17 with an initial donation of $40,000, which he estimated would feed about 1200 people for 10 days. The project has since raised over $130,000 through donations from businesses and individuals. The project remains entirely volunteer-driven, meaning each dollar donated goes directly toward the purchasing of food.
We encourage anyone in need of a kit, or who is able to volunteer, to either pack or deliver kits, or to donate funds to visit Operation Ramzieh’s website.