FoodWorks Atlantic: Making Impactful Connections In the Atlantic Food Industry
Amidst the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic in New Brunswick, the entire food service industry experienced devastating impacts. As provinces declared a state of emergency, consumers were eager to stock their cupboards and freezers. Food manufacturers and grocers struggled to keep up with such a spike in demand. To understand the significant increase in demand, Blair Hyslop; the CEO of Mrs. Dunster’s Bakery, claims “In one day this week, workers baked 25,000 loaves of bread that were delivered to 600 customers across the three Maritime provinces and Maine. That’s up from roughly 2,500 loaves a day”. Almost simultaneously, food service workers in the restaurant industry experienced widespread layoffs as a result of government restrictions to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Restaurants, bars, and coffee shops across New Brunswick were forced to solely offer take-out, or close entirely.
- ‘I haven’t slept:’ N.B. restaurant owners lay off workers during COVID-19 downturn
- N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Up to 30,000 layoffs so far as confirmed cases climb to 33
In March 2020, The Ginger Agency created FoodWorks Atlantic in partnership with the famed Sussex bakery, Mrs. Dunsters. The idea was sparked during an early conversation between Blair Hyslop, CEO of Mrs. Dunsters, and Andrew Bedford, CEO of The Ginger Agency and the Hartt Shoe Co. The original idea was to help Mrs. Dunster’s recruit workers. This led to a larger discussion on how they could address critical food supply for hospitals, nursing homes, and grocery stores. Labour shortages had the potential to create serious issues for the food manufacturing sector.
Use your Superpowers for Good
The FoodWorks Atlantic website was established to bridge a gap between food service workers affected by layoffs associated with Covid-19 and companies who needed experienced hands to continue their food manufacturing. The digital-lead generation strategy was used as a public service campaign in efforts to help everybody across the Atlantic region. “Everybody knows someone that’s been impacted by this, so we’re hoping there’s a lot of potential good to do here,” said Andrew Bedford, The Ginger Agency’s CEO.
To coincide with Ginger’s digital-lead generation campaign, Accomplice Content Supply Co. created a promotional video for FoodWorks Atlantic. Bob Miller, the co-owner of Accomplice, was eager to get on board with this initiative and help forge connections across the Atlantic food service community. The Halifax based video content creation company captured provoking scenes of empty restaurants in the popular downtown core and Dartmouth area to display the detrimental effects Covid-19 had on the restaurant industry.
Despite Team Ginger working remotely at the time, they worked together quickly to develop FoodWorks Atlantic, a simple website that explains the program and the potential connections that can be made. It asks interested individuals that are from Atlantic Canada to fill out a form that will be added to a database of workers. Employers can also sign up on the site, demonstrating their need for experienced food service workers. There is no charge to either party for submitting their application through the website.
As the effects of Covid-19 drew out, connections among the food service industry continued to grow across Atlantic Canada. Throughout the campaign, Food Works Atlantic heard from employers looking to fill hundreds of positions and received hundreds of contacts from those looking for employment opportunities.