Great Expectations

After a brief production break, we were ready for a safe return to the kitchen this week and were just about to post our very first blog of 2021 to celebrate what would have been the launch of our sixth season of jam making. Then the news broke about Ontario’s state of emergency, the second since the COVID pandemic began last March.

We are hitting the reset button.

Our kitchen will remain shuttered for now. Like other organizations across Ontario, we value the safety of our team and everyone who is involved in our supply chain above everything else. We will use this down time to work on a plan for a successful return to business. Whenever it is safe to return, we will do so immediately and with great expectations.

As we all move towards recovery this year, focusing on vaccinations, staying healthy and keeping safe, we do not want to lose sight of the reason why our social enterprise exists. We make jam in an effort to disrupt the cycle of homelessness in the Niagara Region.

Our job skills program had to be suspended indefinitely last March and we are thinking about our program participants and the challenges many of them are continuing to encounter. While we are keeping in touch and were able to deploy a few support initiatives in 2020, our job skills program had a very specific mandate.

It was a safe place where individuals transitioning out of homelessness could regain confidence by developing new job and social skills while finding a sense of community. It has been incredibly disappointing to not be able to provide that in person community and support to our full team over the last ten months.

When we are back in our kitchen, we will continue to make plans so that our job skills program can effectively be back up and running as soon as possible.

Our kitchen has been solely staffed by a small group of our volunteers since last year and our organization would not have survived without their tireless efforts to ensure we had sufficient inventory throughout 2020.They are ready to work hard again this year.

While they have enjoyed the camaraderie of being “in a room with other human beings” and were “helping the Southridge Shelter”, they have missed working along side the folks who participate in our program. We are all looking forward to the day when we can invite our full team back into our kitchen, hopefully by the end of this year.

As further restrictions are implemented, we are also thinking about all our retail partners across Ontario and indeed, all the small businesses that will be fighting for survival this year.

We have been so grateful for the support of our retail partners and the enthusiasm our jams received from you, especially during the holiday season last year. We have heard from a few of our retail partners that in some cases, almost all of their stock was wiped out when shoppers came in looking for our jams specifically. Thank you for helping us to sell off most of our 2020 inventory.

We are sold out but our products are still available in stores across Ontario, in fruit/vegetable boxes, gift baskets and on charcuterie boards. If you are online shopping, please continue to keep your local and small business retailers in mind. They (and we) need you more than ever. 

We definitely have great expectations for when this is finally over. We plan to increase jam production and hope you will continue to buy as much of that jam as possible in the coming months. As always, our goal is to reinvest in programs at the Southridge Shelter. We literally cannot do this without you.

So, as we hunker down once more, I am thinking about something I read recently. The pandemic is likely to leave Ontario with a fizzle rather than the bang in which it started last March. Gradually, the restrictions will all be lifted. We can’t wait for the safety, security and stability of that future fizzle.

We are looking forward to being able to make more strawberry, peach, sour cherry jams and grape jelly for you again. We will soon.

In the meantime, sending you wishes for patience and hope from Southridge Jam.