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Buy now, drink later: Calls for help for bars and social restaurants

20:31 22/03/2020
From Flanders Today

Brewery Alken-Maes has launched a campaign asking beer drinkers to support their favourite bar during the shutdown of the food and drink sector caused by the coronavirus outbreak. All bars and restaurants are closed until at least 5 April in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

The Café-Solidair campaign asks people to buy drink vouchers to be redeemed at a bar serving the brewery’s Cristal or Maes beers once the crisis is over and establishments are able to reopen. Customers can also choose to simply donate money. The access to extra funds now is aimed at helping small businesses bridge the closedown period.

Alken-Maes, based in Mechelen, is part of the Heineken company and says it will also be supporting cafe owners during this time. The first 400 beers bought using these vouchers will be provided to the bars by the company free of charge.

“We are hoping to have 4,000 to 5,000 bars participating in Café-Solidair,” said spokesperson Jan Bosselaers. “It would be fantastic if we could give all these cafes a boost in the coming weeks.”

Meanwhile, social enterprise Restos du Cœur is seeking support from the government, supermarkets and the public to be able to keep providing its food aid to the homeless and those on low incomes across the country.

The Restos du Cœur social restaurants are expecting an increase in the number of people needing food aid in the coming weeks as the coronavirus crisis continues. They have asked supermarkets to donate staple food items and the government to provide funding so they can keep their food storage open.

As the dining rooms of the restaurants are temporarily closed, they are now offering a takeaway service. The public can donate money via the website.

“We will do everything we can to continue to offer full meals to those who are eligible even now that our dining rooms are closed,” said Jean-Gérard Closset, president of the Federation of Restos du Cœur. “Our food supplies are shrinking. We will have to compensate for this by buying at normal retail prices. And we expect a substantial increase in demand for food aid in the coming days and weeks.”

The non-profit initiative began in France and now has three social restaurants in Flanders, two in Brussels and 12 in Wallonia. A food truck also delivers to remote places in Belgium where there is almost no food aid.

Photo courtesy Alken-Maes

Written by Sally Tipper (Flanders Today)