Good day! Very long time, no weblog. 😉
I’m taking a break from my New Year’s Resolution to jot down one thing I’ve been occupied with because the coronavirus first made its look in North America again in March.
Whereas I do know so many have suffered in so many various methods as a consequence of COVID-19 — from our overworked well being care professionals, to those that have misplaced their jobs, to those that have misplaced their family members — I wished to speak about one section of society specifically: the entrepreneurs behind allergy-friendly merchandise and eating places.
It’s not information that many native companies are struggling or have already closed for good — including one of my favourite allergy-friendly spots — and I’ve been eager to do one thing, something to assist.
So I’m right here to focus on native allergy-friendly manufacturers/eating places in order that *we* can proceed to present them our enterprise and do our small half to assist preserve them in enterprise. (As a result of lots of them pivoted in methods they doubtless didn’t think about again in January — to proceed serving the meals allergy group, coronavirus or not.)
Additionally: In gentle of the continuing #blacklivesmatter protests within the US (and contemplating we nonetheless have an extended solution to go to attain racial equality right here in Canada), I wished to share this assortment of black-owned restaurants that are open for take-out in the GTA as one small manner of exhibiting my assist for our black group. PLEASE NOTE that I did not create this record, and you will have to do your individual analysis to search out out if a spot of curiosity can accommodate your allergies.
Okay, I’m slipping this one in right here for a few completely different causes: (1) as a result of I assist this anti-racist motion 100%, and (2) as a result of this way of life model which can not appear to be allergy-related at first look is definitely owned by the identical beautiful man behind the now closed Forgetful Chef Snack Foods, an allergy-friendly model that produced high 12 free snacks and did a lot to assist our group. Learn on to search out out what he’s so generously doing for the #blacklivesmatter motion for your entire month of June.
How they have been affected: As a web-based store to start with, one in all their plans for 2020 was to construct relationships with retailers and broaden into varied retail places. Alternatives to take action slowed down as many retailers shut their doorways or pivoted to on-line fashions.
How they pivoted: The very first thing they did was to shortly begin producing face masks and neck buffs (gaiters). “We labored shortly with our manufacturing workforce to create two completely different types: The primary is our natural Explorer Mask. It’s mushy, breathable, and has a tri-blend cloth. The opposite is extra generic, however remains to be breathable and is available in a pack of three.”
How they care: On the finish of this month, they’ll be donating all the income they made in June to Black Lives Matter.
Closing ideas: “That is the very least we are able to do as a corporation to assist begin optimistic conversations and actions in direction of equality and understanding.”
LOCAL / TORONTO / CANADIAN ALLERGY-FRIENDLY BRANDS
I used to be first launched to the deliciousness of ALLFree’s scrumptious brownies when the proprietor reached out to me within the Top 10 Challenge‘s first yr to precise curiosity in changing into a gold sponsor. I used to be touched by her generosity and — once I lastly bought a style of her brownies — pleasantly shocked at how scrumptious they have been! Not solely that, however she additionally kindly donated her brownies to #AllergyMom Meetups again once I was nonetheless in Toronto.
Whereas they’ve but to maneuver to a web-based mannequin, however since COVID-19 hit, they’ve been actually specializing in manufacturing to fulfill the elevated calls for of their retail clients. You could find their yummy brownies on the following shops throughout the GTA: Complete Meals, Nature’s Emporium, Ambrosia, Well being Planet, Goodness Me, Massive Carrot, Loblaws, Sobey’s, Metro Ontario, and Walmart. When you’re looking for a retailer close to you that carries this allergy-friendly model, all you must do is contact them & ask.
Reach out to request a list of local retailers
Allergy Good is yet one more high 10 free model whose: (a) merchandise are scrumptious, and (b) proprietor is a caring member of the allergy group. Beforehand The Good Chew, chances are you’ll recall seeing these scrumptious brownies in your swag luggage at previous #AllergyMom Meetups. They’ve since re-branded to Allergy Good and have added quite a lot of cookies to their allergy-friendly choice. Not solely that, however it is best to begin seeing these yummy issues in an increasing number of grocery shops this yr. Till then, you may order their scrumptious treats on-line.
The entrepreneur behind Eat to Life is yet one more instance of a goodhearted human who desires to assist his group. Earlier this yr, he reached out to me to see how he might assist the Top 10 Challenge, and ended up donating a number of prizes to high individuals. Whereas I haven’t tried his KINWA BARS myself (they include sunflower seeds — one in all my son’s allergic reactions), I’ve heard from those that received that they didn’t final lengthy.
How they have been affected: Most of their retail companions have been both closed or had very restricted site visitors, and most clients have been in search of to buy ‘staples’ moderately than specialty snacks. As such, they have been dealing with a major decline in gross sales.
How they pivoted: They launched a brand new web site on June eighth — with higher pricing, new reductions, and varied high-value bundled product offerings to offer a greater digital purchasing expertise and extra worth to their clients.
How they care: Quickly after the pandemic hit, they donated greater than $10,000 value of KINWA BAR merchandise to numerous hospitals and care amenities to offer frontline healthcare employees with entry to handy, nutrient-dense snacks all through their shifts.
Closing ideas: “Making an attempt to construct new model consciousness on a shoestring funds and preserve a enterprise afloat is tough at the very best of occasions. Throw in a worldwide pandemic and issues get rather a lot more durable. We’ve needed to struggle our urge to promote at any value and give attention to the long run success of the model by reinvesting in our model story, our net platform, and on the lookout for methods to companion with different modern startups to assist our group and develop our model presence.”
One more allergy-friendly firm that goes out of its manner for the allergy group, FreeYumm might not be native to Toronto… however they’re Canadian!
How they have been affected: Two weeks earlier than COVID-19 hit North America, FreeYumm launched their first savoury snack line… NEW FreeYumm Crackers. The nationwide roll-out of this stuff has been slowed as retailers face large-scale adjustments that take precedence over including new merchandise to their cabinets.
How they pivoted: They labored very carefully with native chains who have been doing their greatest to assist native manufacturers in the course of the pandemic. For instance, FreeYumm’s new crackers can be found now in BC at Complete Meals, Selections, and London Medication. All of those retailers went above and past to assist FreeYumm launch their new merchandise in the course of the COVID-19 outbreak to carry clients one thing new and attention-grabbing in the course of the downturn. For these outdoors of BC, they’ll be launching on-line at Well.ca and SPUD.ca later this month! Follow them on Instagram for brand new retailer bulletins.
How they care: FreeYumm teamed up with native BC pure meals producers similar to Daiya Meals and Silver Hills Bakery to distribute further meals to frontline employees which have continued to work by means of the pandemic by protecting cabinets stocked throughout North America. (Learn extra about it in BC Business.) They’re additionally working very carefully with Backpack Buddies, serving to nourish kids in want by means of COVID and the summer season months.
Closing ideas: “It is a time that folks with meals allergic reactions really feel further weak and we get that. Now we have maintained our extraordinarily excessive stage of meals security and private well being of our staff throughout this time to make sure that as a meals manufacturing facility we’re capable of stay open and capable of provide our core buyer base: the allergen group.”
Ah, Hype Meals Co. Is there anybody within the Toronto allergy group who doesn’t learn about this heavenly place for allergy people? Nicely, simply in case you weren’t conscious of how they’ve continued to serve our group throughout COVID-19, I’m right here to let you know.
How they have been affected: Whereas I didn’t get the prospect to speak with the beautiful homeowners earlier than this publish was revealed, I can solely assume that they’re experiencing the identical challenges as any restaurant that has needed to shut its doorways to (bodily) clients since March.
How they pivoted: Not solely are they providing curbside pickup and free deliveries (depending on location and price of order), they’re additionally offering food “essentials” — nice for many who could also be having issue discovering their protected manufacturers on the grocery retailer! Plus, it appears to be like like they’re being tremendous inventive and arising with enjoyable methods to maintain the children entertained (and fed) whereas socially distancing. One in all their newest? Host a digital social gathering with these superior celebration kits:
This beautiful little School St. store carries more healthy snack and deal with choices for littles (a few of which occur to be high allergen-free), and so they boast an superior number of toys, books (together with A is for Activist, An ABC of Equality, I Am Rosa Parks, and extra!), and different stuff for infants and children.
How they have been affected: Like everybody else, they needed to shut the shop to the general public in March. Fortunately, they already had an internet site for on-line purchasing, however when the shop closed they misplaced about 30% of their revenue as among the merchandise have been nonetheless not listed on the web site.
How they pivoted: They’re now open 7 days per week, and are providing curbside pickup or free supply for orders over $40 throughout the GTA. In addition they expanded their supply zone from the rapid neighborhood to wherever within the GTA, and needed to rent a supply driver. They shortly realized that indoor actions — like puzzles, board video games, craft provides and college work books — have been in excessive demand, in order that they scrambled to order no matter they might. In addition they up to date their web site so that folks we might extra simply discover the gadgets they have been on the lookout for.
How they care: Each Jills have made private donations to #blacklivesmatter charities, in addition to to meals banks in an effort to assist these folks most deeply affected by the pandemic.
Closing Ideas: “We’re pleased with our various guide choice. It has all the time been necessary for us to hold books that present seen minorities, black leaders, civil rights activists, the LGBTQ group, and which have sturdy feminist values. These books have turn into extra fashionable in the previous few weeks, and we’re blissful to have already got them in inventory!”
How they have been affected: Whereas I didn’t get to speak with the homeowners of this high allergen-free bakery positioned in Guelph, I noticed on social media that they closed their doorways (whereas persevering with to offer their merchandise to the group through wholesale retailers) till simply final week.
How they pivoted: It appears to be like like they up to date their web site to supply on-line purchasing with curbside pickup as a protected and contactless solution to buy their gadgets.
How they care: In mid-Could, their freezers went down — an enormous loss for his or her household enterprise. To keep away from waste and to assist clients who could have been in want of reasonably priced meals as a consequence of job loss, and so on. throughout COVID-19, they determined to present away seize luggage… freed from cost.
OhhFoods is one other domestically owned, allergy-friendly product line whose mission — #inclusivesnacking — is one that’s near my coronary heart. I imply, the entire thought behind the Top 10 Challenge is to have participant reside a ‘day on the plate’ of somebody with meals allergic reactions in order that they’ll perceive our challenges and hopefully make extra of an effort to be inclusive.
How they have been affected: They obtained many messages people who have been unable to go to the grocery retailer however wished to attempt their snacks.
How they pivoted: They’ve made it simpler to attempt their bites by launching Discovery Boxes, which permit customers to attempt all their flavours in a single enjoyable field!
Closing ideas: See what the girl behind the bites has to say concerning the #blacklivesmatter motion in an upcoming function, the place I’ll be interviewing this younger, black, Canadian entrepreneur (if she agrees).
This high allergen-free spot is freed from gluten, nuts, dairy, soy, and sesame, and even sunflower seeds(!!). Plus, they’re doing a little actually nice stuff for each #frontlineworkers and #blacklivesmatter, so whereas I simply heard of them final week, I already like them. 😉
How they have been affected: The hardest problem was getting folks to note and check out a model they hadn’t heard of. Up to now, they relied on sampling to persuade Canadians to present them a attempt, moderately than the large names they’re conversant in. Since that’s now not an choice, they’ve needed to get inventive with a few of their techniques.
How they pivoted: They arrange a web-based retailer to promote packing containers of their bestselling merchandise with contactless supply, and in addition launched an allergen-friendly baking combine for these baking extra at house.
How they care: In March, they partnered with Nutiva, Wholly Veggie, and Station Chilly Espresso Brew Co. to ship care packages to oldsters working double obligation throughout Ontario. Most not too long ago, they dedicated to donating 100% of the income from on-line gross sales in June to supporting the Black Authorized Motion Centre (BLAC).
Closing ideas: “As a meals producer, we’ve been among the many fortunate few who haven’t needed to shut down in some unspecified time in the future this yr.” This allowed them to focus a lot of their vitality on supporting the Canadian allergy group throughout these difficult occasions.
I simply needed to embody this high allergen-free Ottawa bakery. They’ve accomplished some actually nice issues to adapt to this new-normal we’re dwelling in… and it appears giving again is of their blood!
How they have been affected: They closed all of their places quickly (for about 2 weeks), then began up once more for wholesale shoppers that have been nonetheless open, and in addition supplied contactless curbside pickup for sooner or later of the week.
How they pivoted: After about 2 weeks, they added extra contactless curbside pickup choices, and supplied house supply in Ottawa, then Gatineau, and finally nationwide supply on a choose few gadgets. They initially began with a small menu that they’d publish on social media every week and added extra gadgets as they felt comfy doing so. After a pair weeks of doing that, they constructed a web-based retailer to streamline the method.
How they care: One in all their all-time bestselling gadgets is their Cream Egg Brownies. Since they have been closed over Easter, they didn’t make practically as lots of them as they usually would and clients have been lacking them. In order that they introduced them again for a pair weeks and donated half of the gross sales to frontline employees. In addition they donated half of all gross sales made on their on-line retailer on June 6 to the Black Authorized Motion Centre (BLAC).
Closing ideas: “Giving again to the group has all the time been on the core of Strawberry Blonde Bakery, and one thing we made a degree to do from earlier than we even opened (it was in our authentic marketing strategy manner again when!). The monetary stress of COVID-19 has been a bit devastating, however we wouldn’t be the identical firm if we didn’t give again. The group helps us and we’re dedicated to supporting them.”
Anybody who’s part of the AllergyBites Community on Fb is aware of how a lot I like Sweets from the Earth’s Kool for College line. Whereas the common SFTE merchandise include at the very least one in all our son’s allergens, these don’t. Plus, they aren’t too excessive in sugar and so they’re scrumptious. The mini apple cinnamon bagels are my absolute favorite! (And when you have a sesame allergy, these would be the solely protected bagels within the metropolis!!) #lovebagels
How they have been affected: COVID-19 hit them pretty exhausting with 70% of their retail shoppers closing in a single day. Additionally, provide chain and ingredient sourcing proceed to be a difficulty, however they continue to be absolutely stocked.
How they pivoted: They launched a web-based store with frozen supply within the GTA and shelf-stable gadgets throughout Canada. They’re providing free supply to Ontario and Quebec residents with order of $50+ and to remainder of Canada with orders over $75. Contactless curbside pickup can be obtainable at their bakery, positioned at 101 Canarctic Drive.
How they care: Whereas they haven’t actually been promoting their efforts, they’ve made non-public donations to each frontline employees and #blacklivesmatter causes, and have proven their support of black-owned companies of their “shut group” through social media. (Take a look at their Instagram post for a listing of native + vegan + black-owned companies.)
Closing ideas: Allergy-friendly elements have been briefly provide in order that they opted to make their elements obtainable to the general public as properly. You could find a pleasant number of elements and baking provides on the market on the web site.
When you’ve been following my weblog for some time, you understand how a lot I like this gluten-free, nut-free bakery positioned in Toronto’s west finish. Not solely is the proprietor (Josee) a completely beautiful particular person to cope with, she’ll do all the pieces in her energy to accommodate different allergic reactions… so simply ask!
How they have been affected: Whereas I didn’t get the prospect to speak with Josee earlier than this publish was revealed, I did somewhat digging and it appears to be like like they needed to cut back their variety of employees and hours of operation. Whereas they didn’t have to shut like another institutions, I’m certain that their enterprise took a success when COVID-19 first hit.
How they pivoted: Not solely did they replace their web site for simpler on-line ordering, however they’re taking many precautions contained in the bakery to make sure the well being and security of each employees and clients. These superior masks are one superb instance!
This publish was written by AllergyBites founder, Kathleen O’Hagan. Kathleen is a author, a foodie, and the mother of a kid with a number of meals allergic reactions. Need to assist make a distinction? Contact Kathleen about volunteering for the Top 10 Challenge fundraiser.
Pleasant. Supportive. Encouraging.
Need to be a part of a group of like-minded meals allergy people? Be part of the AllergyBites Community on Fb.