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Agri-food businesses help combat COVID-19

Agri-food businesses help combat COVID-19

Distilleries use their alcohol to make hand sanitizer

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Several agri-food businesses are using their resources to help local communities stop the spread of COVID-19.

Distilleries across Western Canada and B.C. are using alcohol that typically would be destined for gin or whisky to create bottles of hand sanitizer instead.

Grit City Distillery in Medicine Hat, Alta., for example, has a tent set up outside of its Tap Room pub where staff members distribute a few ounces of hand sanitizer to members of the community who can each bring an empty bottle to fill.

The aloe vera gel for the hand sanitizer comes from community donations.

Giving back at a time when communities are struggling with the domino effects of the pandemic outweighs any potential revenue loss, said Andy Schmunk, co-owner and general manager of Grit City Distillery.

“We’re happy to do it because our personal philosophy is that money and profit comes second to the love for our community,” he told “We aren’t as concerned about money as we are for finding ways to go above and beyond for our community.

“We have people thanking us every day for what we’re doing and it’s almost like there’s sense of calm when people come by to see us to get their hand sanitizer refilled.”

Grit City isn’t the only distillery supplying hand sanitizer for its local community.

A pair of distilleries in Saskatchewan are also using their equipment and resources to create the product.

Lucky Bastard Distillers and Stumbletown Distilling are producing hand sanitizer to distribute to frontline workers.

Michael Goldney, the co-owner of Lucky Bastard and also a medical doctor, recognized “right away that we have limited production capacity, (so) let’s take care of those people first and we are distributing the product to first responders,” he told the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

Distillers in B.C. are also contributing to the cause.

Individual distillers needed approval to start producing the hand-cleaning product, but B.C. Attorney General David Eby gave permission for all distilleries to make hand sanitizer given the COVID-19 situation.

“We are in unprecedented times and everyone must do their part to fight COVID-19,” he said in a statement. “Distilleries have been approaching us asking how they can help, and this new policy directive will mean they are authorized to manufacture alcohol-based hand sanitizer.”

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