**UPDATE: 28/03/2020 @ 16:30 UTC – Air Canada has now provided a statement. Read below for further information. **
Amidst all the disruption of the coronavirus outbreak, there are some moments of community spirit to come out of the pandemic. During these difficult times, Air Canada has stepped up to provide meals for vulnerable people. It has begun to donate food from its kitchens to support Canadian charities.
Lending a helping hand
As many borders across the globe are shut to foreign travel, and vast portions of the world’s population have been urged to stay at home, airlines are facing new problems. In addition to figuring out where to park their grounded aircraft, how to support staff and how bring back stranded passengers there’s one more. It concerns what they should do with surplus food.
Air Canada, like many airlines, is currently operating a significantly reduced schedule due to a slump in travel demand and the inability to access some of its normal destinations. Yet it’s kitchens are still catering for flights. That leaves a lot of edible produce that could possibly go to waste.
Air Canada is now donating large quantities of its prepackaged food to help those who may lack the finances for proper nutrition during the coronavirus outbreak. So far, the airline says that it has donated over 2,330kg of fresh food to charities that support vulnerable Canadians. These food items include milk, muffins, salads, and sandwiches.
The airline told Simple Flying:
“In light of the change in our on-board food service as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, this resulted in an overage of ready to eat fresh food destined for our flights in our in-flight kitchens. Having the wellness of Canadians in mind, and adopting sustainability in its supply chain and consumption practices, we quickly realized that we could redirect this food to help Canadian families in need, rather than let it simply go to waste. The Air Canada Foundation immediately reached out to some of its long standing partners, including the Breakfast Club and Canada and the Canadian Red Cross and was quickly introduced in the Food Rescue Canadian Alliance, led by Second Harvest.”
One recipient was Alpha House Calgary which provides care to those who are living with drug and alcohol dependencies. The charity received 600 prepared meals on the evening of 24th March.
Thank you for this touching sentiment. We’re proud to support our communities and happy that we could help during a time that we need to stand together more than ever.
— Air Canada (@AirCanada) March 26, 2020
How long will Air Canada provide support?
In a statement, the Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer at Air Canada said that the partnership with a food rescue charity has helped the airline to efficiently deliver food. That means that donations are received when they are at their best.
Arielle Meloul-Wechsler explained:
“While so many of us are staying home during these extraordinary times, we also remain united in taking care of each other. These difficult moments remind us of the importance of continuing to support our communities and help Canadian families in need. Since we work with catering facilities across Canada, the network that Second Harvest offers through their national FoodRescue.ca platform enables us collectively to get these ready-to-eat food items to those who need it most as quickly as possible…there will be more [food] to distribute in the coming days.”
It is unclear for how long Air Canada will continue to provide support to charities like Second Harvest. At present, it is assumed that the food sent to the charities is what would otherwise have been left uneaten inflight. If Air Canada further shrinks its schedule it may no longer be able to provide those essential food items to those who need it.
Air Canada spurred on by acts of charity
Air Canada certainly looks like its making the best out of a difficult situation. Last week, the airline repatriated some 200,000 Canadians back onto home soil and it continues to offer opportunities for nationals to get back to Canada.
What’s more, the airline has also started shipping urgent medical supplies with its cargo fleet to South America. Its expertise in handling cargo makes it adroit to continue to support populations and the economy despite the pandemic.
What do you make of this story? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.