MELBOURNE—Driven to see food businesses thrive amidst the economic downturn of COVID-19 restrictions, a southern Victoria resident has brought tens of thousands of local foodies together on a social media platform “to help out” food outlets in Mornington Peninsula.
Dromana local, and real estate agent, Isidora Love, founded Peninsula Food with Love Eat & Drink Local Support Facebook Group on March 21, after the Victoria government declared a state of emergency to combat the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
“Right into the first stage I thought, this is going to be long term, this is not going to go away quickly,” Love said in an interview with The Epoch Times.
Love was worried about how the COVID-19 restrictions were going to impact businesses in the Peninsula that rely on tourists.
The interactive group brings together cafes, restaurants, and takeaways of various cultures, including Greek, and Japanese and Australian.
It allows locals to say what type of food or drink they’re looking for, and businesses are able to provide up-to-date information to customers. It comes at a time when changes to COVID-19 measures can have damaging effects on how companies operate.
Members are given access to a spreadsheet that details company, suburb, food type, takeaway, and delivery details.
With many Victorians unable to dine out because of stay-at-home rules, within a short time, Peninsula Food with Love grew to over 14,000 members.
“Within three or four weeks, the group had ten thousand people,” Love said.
“It went nuts!” said Love, who spent all day approving memberships from hundreds of people.
Love explained that she deliberately made a Facebook group as opposed to a page to promote more interaction among members needing to navigate through restricted movement and curfews.
Covering all the costs for the community venture, Love admits she sometimes “works like crazy” to ensure all businesses are compliant with council regulations and COVIDSafe guidelines.
An estimated 300 Morning Peninsula businesses are among the group’s members list, servicing a population of 167,000 people.
The group has also attracted the attention of Nepean MP Chris Brayne, who wrote on Facebook:
“This time has been so difficult for many peninsula residents. For businesses, it’s been crippling. Dromana local Isidora Love thought the same and decided to do something about it.”
Food Outlets Revived Through Facebook Group
For months, Love has been inundated with messages from businesses in the Victorian coastal region saying they would be out of business if it weren’t for the group she created.
Jackie, the owner of catering company Happy Graze, said since joining the group earlier this year she has never been so busy. “It’s made a massive difference thanks! My phone has not stopped!!” She told Love by text message.
Capel Sound-based Italian restaurant, Unica Cucina e Caffe’, is one of many businesses that have been limited to takeaway and delivery only due to social distancing orders. Owner Michelle Vivian Loielo said that the group had revived her business somewhat, bringing back a family-run business environment.
“Last night, I was able to afford to put one of my staff members for a shift. May not sound like much… but because of local support—last night you brought a smile and a joy to our faces that we haven’t felt for weeks. My staff are my family. I have been heartbroken not having them at work. Honestly, thank you for setting up this page. It means so much to so many,” Loielo wrote in a comment to the Facebook group.
There are plans underway to develop the Facebook community group into a phone app.