A downtown Guelph restaurant is giving its patrons an opportunity to purchase affordable meals for those in need and add it right on their bill.
For two years, Breezy Corners on Macdonell Street has been offering a program allowing customers to spend an extra $5.95 to purchase a meal that will be distributed to someone in need. The business pays the tax on the breakfast and also offers a hot beverage with the meal.
The need for the program was identified after various interactions with people in need, said Katrina Marshall, one of the co-owners of the chain that has restaurants in Guelph, Freelton and Hamilton.
Sometimes people sleep in the vestibule in front of the restaurant, said Marshall.
“We have a patio in the summer and we have seen some people who will sit and finish the food that is left on the plates before we get a chance to clean the tables, so we knew there was definitely a need for food,” said Marshall.
The program allows people in need to receive a voucher for a breakfast. On Monday the restaurant served about 20 people through the program.
Server Bev Ross oversees the program at Breezy Corners. She said there were kinks in the way meals were redeemed in the beginning, but those have since been worked out.
“I felt some of the wrong people were getting it,” said Ross. “What really ruffled my feathers is when I watched a woman go out into that parking lot getting into a brand new car after she got a free meal. I was just thinking she took that from somebody that needs it, so we had to get better control.”
Word of the program has been mostly spread by word of mouth over the past two years. Each menu at the restaurant has a piece of paper stapled to it explaining the program.
“Some people contribute, some people don’t. Some people just tell us it’s a good idea,” said Ross.
The restaurant has made up plastic cards, each with the Breezy Corners logo and a number written on it. Those cards are logged before being distributed to agencies or to outreach workers. The cards can be redeemed during the morning from Monday to Friday.
Ross also keeps a few at the restaurant to offer meals to people who walk in.
“I have a pretty good idea of the people who need them,” she said.
Marshall said the people who receive the breakfasts are very appreciative of the program.
“At first, we were worried that we would have more people coming for food than what we had donated, but it’s actually not the case, it’s worked out to be almost perfect where we get enough donations every week to feed all of the people who come in during the mornings,” said Marshall.
On Monday, more than 20 meals were purchased, which more than made up for the 20 that were distributed..
“We need people to want to continue to purchase them, to make it possible. It’s been really neat to see,” said Marshall.