The Interfaith and Lethbridge food banks are partnering with catering companies Mocha Local and Bavaru to put on the first-ever citywide virtual dinner party amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Those interested can order meal kits from Mocha Local or a three-course prepared meal from Bavaru on the Feed Lethbridge website.
“Normally, we have a charity auction and dinner that the Lethbridge Food Bank runs, a golf tournament, and then we also run a charity auction this time of year,” said Mac Nichol, events operational support for the Interfaith Food Bank Society of Lethbridge, on Tuesday.
“This is kind of a replacement but something we’re trying to do separately, so even though it’s a replacement for that event, this is hopefully going to be separate moving forward and it’s own annual event.”
Read more: Lethbridge food banks prepare for uptick in demand as some government funding ends or changes
The event will be happening this Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Residents are encouraged to host dinner parties at their own locations and invite family and friends over to enjoy the meals.
Six Lethbridge radio stations are also on board. People can listen for music and directions to other Feed Lethbridge activities during the event.
Organizers said the fundraising initiative is about supporting community and local businesses while fundraising in a safe way during the pandemic.
The food banks have had to look for alternative ways to generate money as many of their fundraisers had to be cancelled this year, and according to the food banks, much of this money would help them cover their operating costs.
“This is very important for us to continue operating at the level, but at the same time, we know that with the government funding that has now shifted to a different method, there’s going to be a lot of families and individuals that are going to be utilizing our services,” said Maral Kiani Tari, executive director of the Lethbridge Food Bank.
“We want to make sure that we have the resources to be able to support those families.”
Read more: Catering business brings back employees to help Lethbridge Food Bank feed 800 children
Aside from the meal packages, there is also an online auction for dessert from Mocha Local and various other items donated by supporters.
People can also purchase tickets for a 50/50 raffle with a minimum $2,000 prize, and tickets will be available until Friday at 9 p.m.
Lastly, there’s the option of simply making a donation online.
The two catering businesses providing food for the event say they’re excited to be able to give back to their community.
“It’s going to be our first online event. What we’re trying to do is give the people who are supporting this cause the event experience they would have had if they were in a ballroom,” said Alejandro Davila, owner of Bavaru Catering.
“Bringing food and bringing people together at a table for a dining experience is like the best way to connect with people, and with COVID, in many ways, we’ve lost that feeling of connection,” explained Angel Harper, co-owner of Mocha Local.
“There [are] so many people in our community who are struggling just to have food to eat, and for the folks that [join] the virtual dinner, we have an opportunity to connect with people, enjoy great local food, support local business and fundraise for the local food banks.”
Fifteen dollars from every Bavaru meal and $25 from each Mocha Local meal kit, which contains four adult meals, will go towards the fundraising effort.