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Much has been said about the importance of buying local during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Goods owner and RBC client Lisa LaBute is showing just how far local support can reach when the entire community comes together.

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Goods was a busy, vibrant business in Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighbourhood, serving vegan, organic foods made with functional healing ingredients. A sunny, plant-filled space, it employed a staff of 10, had a 30-seat dining room and a thriving catering and take-out service. Then everything stopped. The Goods lost 90% revenue within a few days, Labute was forced to lay off her staff, and she closed the doors for four days.

While they were allowed to stay open, Labute challenged that The Goods was even more than just essential because of the food they make. “The food is really powerful,” says Labute. “It has the power to heal people, it’s immunity boosting, it’s fresh… it’s literally medicine.” But the big question she kept asking herself was: “How do I get food to people in a way that is keeping them safe and keeping the team safe?”

Then a group of local women began raising funds for front line workers and needed help organizing the food portion. Thanks to a donation to The Goods, Labute and her team were able to make and send out several hundred meals to front line workers.

From there, one of the staff’s parents offered a weekly donation and Labute wanted to see who they could feed. She reached out to Dixon Hall, which she had ties to from many years ago. “It was a hopeful call because they normally do a community dinner for fifty people. They can’t do that now because of the lock down, so all these people lost their daily meal.” Through the weekly donation, The Goods now sends freshly made meals to the members of the Dixon Hall community.

Wondering who else might be overlooked, Labute then connected with L’Arche, an organization that offers community housing for people with intellectual disabilities. An extremely vulnerable segment of the population, the individuals at L’Arche can’t leave their homes, and are experiencing a cut back in personal care. They said that grocery shopping would be a huge help, and The Goods is now doing a weekly shop for forty people.

Today, through donations they receive from various people, groups and private organizations in the community, The Goods is in a position to buy, make and serve food to some of the city’s most vulnerable individuals.

“It’s a beautiful cycle I hadn’t thought of before,” admits Labute. “By receiving donations, we can make food at cost, inject funds into the community and then feed the community. It’s a holistic cycle that has allowed us to stay in business and fed the people who need us most.”

In fact, Labute feels this experience is a wake up call for the community, as there is great power within its citizens to help survive the effects of the pandemic. When you buy local, you’re supporting the people who live and work in the community – and you’re supporting the businesses that make it a rich, friendly, supportive place to be.

Watch the video to hear more of Lisa Labute’s story and see how The Goods is supporting their community through food.

RBC is proud to make a donation to L’Arche Toronto to support them through this time.

RBC clients across the country have been stepping up to face the COVID-19 crisis with courage, generosity and compassion. Discover other stories of how clients are making a meaningful difference during this difficult time. #RandomActsofCanadian

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