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Kamloops, Okanagan restaurants donating, throwing out food as regulations tighten

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/The Nest

Kamloops and Okanagan restaurants are giving away or donating food they can’t save for three weeks after increased pandemic restrictions shut down indoor dining.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonne Henry shut them down, among other measures, March 29 due to the number of increased COVID-19 cases in the province.

READ MORE: New restrictions on indoor dining, church services and gyms in B.C.: health officials

In Kamloops, popular diner Harold's Family Restaurant has closed for the next three weeks and will be throwing out or donating $2,000 worth of food to The Mustard Seed homeless shelter, said co-owner Manny Mattis.

“And there’s stuff in here now, it’s all cut up, that’s the problem. I’ve got French fries cut up, I’ve got peeled potatoes and onions and they won’t take that stuff… it sucks, I hate throwing food away,” he said.

He would have liked to see more warning from the province prior to the increase in restrictions.

“Now we’ve got all this stuff that we're chucking out,” he said, adding that being along the Trans-Canada Highway means they can’t do outdoor dining.

“We could have dumped other stuff too but we’ve thrown it into the freezer. If we had to have gotten rid of everything it would have been in the $5,000 range.”

In Penticton, The Nest, a restaurant that opened its outdoor patio yesterday, also had to throw out food, said owner Randy Foster.

“We had to change our menu and with that we have a bunch of items that aren’t going to be able to be saved for our menu so we’ve either given it to our staff or had to throw it out,” he said.

The restaurant had to cancel $5,000 worth of food and beverage orders and the food that was prepared for brunch and dinner menus had to be thrown out because they restricted their food options.

READ MORE: Shocked, frustrated and resolved to make it work; B.C.'s restaurants take it on the chin again

He estimated a few hundred pounds of food went into the trash, adding that they try to lower their footprint as much as possible by sourcing local ingredients but some items can’t be saved.

Their patio space was launched yesterday with 18 outdoor spaces outside with 48 indoors that have been closed, he said.

Kelowna's DunnEnzies Pizza Co. announced via Facebook that they had leftover produce and proteins.

“DunnEnzies elves will make soups and some take home dinners, all you need to do is let us know where to drop them off. Nominate yourself, your family, a family in need, a community group, a senior or veteran who needs a hot meal, a front line worker, a first responder or anyone for that matter and we will take care of the rest. Come on Kelowna, let’s take these lemons and make some lemonade,” the post reads.

READ MORE: Frustration grows amid restaurateurs over lack of data linking industry to COVID-19

As Canadian restaurants fight to survive, industry watchers said there is growing frustration over a lack of data that conclusively links restaurants to COVID-19 infections.

The lockdown measures banning indoor dining have taken an enormous toll on restaurants. Restaurants Canada data cited more than 10,000 restaurants have permanently closed while legions of waiters, servers and bartenders have been laid off.

According to the association, eight in 10 are either losing money or barely scraping by.

And as industry proponents like to point out, many provinces have continued to see a spike in cases despite a ban on indoor dining.

Of the roughly 266,363 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Ontario, about 575 infections have been linked to an exposure at a restaurant, bar or nightclub, according to provincial data.

- With files from The Canadian Press

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