Giving Wall, a pay-it-forward food initiative, lets Calgarians help businesses, people in need

The city is teaming up with food writer Julie Van Rosendaal on a new way to help Calgarians pay it forward when they’re eating out.

The Giving Wall program lets people buy a menu item or gift card and leave it at the cafe or restaurant for someone who might not be able to afford a meal.

“It really allows Calgarians to support their communities in any amount they can afford in a convenient way and direct that cash through the restaurant,” said Van Rosendaal.

“This sort of does double duty: it supports our local restaurants and allows people to come in and grab a meal.”

Van Rosendaal is part of the city’s Business Sector Task Force, which was set up to support entrepreneurs during the pandemic. She is also a regular CBC Calgary contributor. 

Van Rosendaal said she is especially worried that the pandemic has separated at-risk kids from their regular school food support systems.

“A lot of them are mobile, can move around and hop on their bikes and walk into a restaurant or coffee shop and access a meal if they need one,” she said.

The initiative is in its early stages, but Van Rosendaal said Calgary businesses have been keen to get involved.

Shosh Cohen, co-owner of La Boulangerie, said the Giving Wall is a good way for the business to give back and build community.

“We had to change everything and the community was with us the whole time, supported us through everything, and this is our chance to pay it back,” she said. 

“I hope to see more good things happening, just like a domino effect. We will give some and then some others will give to others. It can only cause good things.”

Businesses interested in learning more about the initiative can go to the city’s website.

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