Meals for Mates: Pernod Ricard provides 5600 free meals to out-of-work hospitality workers

Jake & Kenny from Mary’s in Sydney. Photography: Maclay Heriot. Graphic: Sindy Sinn

Our hospitality industry in Australia is one of the most dynamic in the world, driven by passion with people at its core. With the effects of COVID-19 unavoidable, people all over the world have been forced to rapidly change the way they live. As our favourite bars, pubs and restaurants across Australia close their doors, our hospitality industry has been feeling it the most, with hundreds of thousands of hospo workers left without jobs. In these crazy and uncertain times, it’s on us to support the industry and people that have always been there in support of us.

To help those most affected by the changes caused by COVID-19, Pernod Ricard launched Meals for Mates – an initiative pledging over $100,000 worth of free meals via Deliveroo. In just two weeks, Meals for Mates provided a total of 5,600 meals for out-of-work hospitality workers across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. With every $25 code redeemed for Deliveroo, support was also given to our venues who remain open for home delivery. The teams behind well-known brands Jacob’s Creek, Absolut, Jameson, and Chivas Regal have been overwhelmed reading the stories shared by hospo workers and are incredibly grateful to have been able to provide a small bit of happiness for those most impacted by COVID-19.

Sabrina from Saga Lyte

Before launching Meals for Mates, we caught up with our friends within the hospitality community to hear their stories. Jay Cozma of Shady Pines spoke of how “financially crippling COVID-19 has been for so many people who weren’t expecting it, and won’t be able to manage their time through it”. Sabrina Sebastiani of Saga Lyte added to that by noting that for many, the reality is “making the choice between paying rent or affording food”. Amongst the distress and uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought to the hospitality industry, Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham from Mary’s highlighted the strength in hope within the community.

“The impact of coronavirus on the hospitality industry is appalling.” For the Mary’s team, “it’s been about opening doors, not closing them… but the response from our community, as always, has been glorious.”

Meals for Mates not only provided an insight into the impact that COVID-19 has had on our industry, but it also opened our eyes to the solidarity of the hospitality community in these unsettling times. We hope it isn’t long until we can be back at our favourite watering holes, sharing our most loved drinks with those we haven’t seen in so long. The care and support that the hospo community shows one another is a testament to how the industry will only come back stronger than ever.