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MNP aims to put a sweeter finish on a bitter year in Brockville


Firm-led ‘Eat Local, feed Local’ campaign promoted 23 local restaurants and focused on increasing donations to the Brockville and Area Food Bank

As we approach the climax of the hospitality sector’s most profitable month, business owners are grappling with a disheartening reality: the holidays will likely provide little deliverance from the financial catastrophe of 2020. Restrictions on in-person dining, cancelled family and corporate functions, and financially conscious consumers are all coming to a head — and that means very few people are coming through their doors.

MNP partners present a cheque for $5,000 to the Brockville and area Food Bank

Photo courtesy of snapd 1000 Islands

Social service organizations are facing similar challenges. Earlier in December, Food Banks Canada reported 87 percent of Canada’s food banks have seen increased demand this year, adding use by single-income households rose by more than a third between February and June alone. With trimmed down spending and millions of Canadians still out of work it’s also likely donations will be down significantly, so the pinch is coming from both ends.

MNP is in a fortunate position, with most staff able to work remotely or effectively distanced in an office environment. “But we also have a head on view of the turmoil. Many of our clients — who are also our friends and neighbours ­— are among those hit hardest by the downturn,” says Brockville Partner Richard Birbeck. “Our firm’s focus has rapidly shifted from how we can help enterprises grow to how we can help them keep their heads above water.”

Eat local, feed local

Cost efficiencies, government subsidies, and cash flow strategies are all essential to keeping organizations afloat. But they’re also cold comfort if money isn’t flowing through the doors. It’s not enough to slow the bleeding, we need to make it stop. That’s what inspired MNP’s nationwide Support Local campaign in September, along with our Brockville office’s Eat Local, Feed Local initiative.

Through Eat Local, Feed Local, we partnered with 23 local restaurants to help drum up business and raise money for the Brockville and Area Food Bank. The premise was simple: for every take-out meal someone bought at a participating restaurant in December 11, we’d donate two dollars to the Food Bank, up to a maximum of $5,000. And, if restaurant patrons were able, we encouraged them to donate as well.

“The importance of patronizing local restaurants makes sense economically,” says Richard. “You not only get to show support to people in your community, but when you purchase from these places, your contribution stays in your community."

New year, new story

MNP recognizes one coordinated event can’t undo the challenges of an entire year, but is optimistic about the knock-on effects of Eat Local, Feed Local heading into 2021. The initial response at the outset of the pandemic to cut back spending was normal — prudent, even. “Nobody knew how bad the job losses would be, how long the crisis would last, or the dangers of catching COVID from online purchases or take away meals. But things are different now,” adds Richard.

Now that the dust has largely settled, those of us who are able have a civic responsibility to help those in our community who don’t enjoy the same privilege explains Richard. 

“Being part of a smaller community, we are all tied together,” he says. “And when one does poorly or has hardships, there is a ripple effect that radiates throughout the community."

Restaurants are more than just a place to fill our plates, they’re real drivers of culture and economic vitality. They’re a hub for the social connections and experiences all of us in Brockville have been missing and are so keen to soak in again when its safe to do so. “But if we don’t support them now, there’s a real chance they may not be there to support us when the time comes,” Richard hastens to add.

Likewise, Richard says we count on charities like the Brockville and Area Food Bank to catch our neighbours who may be falling through the cracks. “The worst thing we could do right now is let them fall through the cracks when they need us most. So if you’re able to donate this holiday season, please do.”

For more information about Eat Local, Feed Local or MNP’s nationwide Support Local initiative, contact Richard Birbeck at 613.704.6048 or [email protected].