THE Limestone Coast business sector has changed dramatically in recent weeks as national restrictions are enforced to slow the spread of COVID-19, but that has not stopped some operators from giving back to the community.
Despite having to adapt the business to meet all relevant social-distancing and takeaway only requirements, the Blue Lake Indian Restaurant has started to serve up free vegetarian meals to support those in need during the pandemic.
The Commercial Street restaurant has already provided over 160 meals in less than a week to residents, including some who have been stood down from their job or have had to close their own businesses due to the restrictions.
Restaurant owner Amit Sharma and his wife Chetna Rambani launched the free meal service after witnessing the flow-on effect of panic-buying in the community.
“With people storing things at home like toilet paper, I realised that those who do not have enough money for basic needs or have lost their jobs are now struggling,” Mr Sharma said.
“When I decided to do something I discussed it with my wife and she suggested to start with some free meals for those who are in need.
“(Stopping dine in meals) gave us more time to prepare the meals and help those in our community.”
To maintain privacy, those in need of a meal are able to call the restaurant to organise a collection time.
“We started to help those people who have lost their jobs and are struggling and I understand it can be a bit embarrassing for some to not have money but I do not judge or question why they need the meal,” he said.
“I do not ask why or what their need is or what happened, I just give them a hot meal.”
Mr Sharam said people who are self isolating have called requesting service, with the food nut and dairy free to accommodate for most needs.
The initiative has also garnered a strong response from the community.
“Some people have come up with their vegetables to donate and we have had people donate their time to deliver the food to those who are self-isolating and cannot leave their homes,” he said.
Mr Sharam initially believed his business would “nose dive” as a result of the pandemic, however said he was grateful to still be operating.
“This is a temporary phase and everything will be over very soon,” Mr Sharam said, aiming to reassure the community he has called home for over four years.
“We are here to help everybody and they should not feel embarrassed if they are in need as we are all one community coming together to help each other.”
Other businesses to recently launch their own community initiatives include Wild Ginger, which handed out free curries to residents yesterday afternoon.
Bay Blue Espresso has also helped spread community spirit with a pay it forward initiative, allowing customers to pay for the next person’s order in advance.
• Has an act of kindness caught your attention across the Limestone Coast? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to help highlight how community spirit is impacting lives positively.