AULD’S COVE: Canada’s original Irving Big Stop is offering truckers free meals to support the workers keeping Canada’s supply chain running during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Truckers are increasingly being denied hot meals, hot showers or even a place to wash their hands as rest stops and service stations prohibit access to washrooms amid the pandemic.
“It’s pretty bad out there,” said Teamsters Canada spokesman Christopher Monette. “It’s a huge problem.”
Gas stations are typically the “last reliable place” for a rest stop, but that’s changed over the past few weeks, Monette said.
“Our drivers deliver critical supplies to hospitals, long-term care facilities and of course millions of Canadians who are now self-isolating or social distancing in their homes who need supplies,” he said. “So in many ways, we’re as much of a front-line worker in this effort as anyone.”
The Big Stop, a small restaurant attached to the Irving gas station in Auld’s Cove along Highway 104, is a highly-used truck stop along the corridor to Newfoundland and Labrador. The local operation has been offering free take-out breakfast from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and complimentary showers with any Irving 24 fuel purchase.
Through their partners at Circle K, they’re also offering free coffee to professional drivers all day long.
“We want to say thank you to professional drivers for all they are doing to keep our communities going,” Tyler McLaughlin, Irving’s director of retail sales and operation said.
For some truckers who stop in, McLaughlin said will have only had eaten cold sandwiches so extending some free food in a time of need, is the least they could do, and for some, it couldn’t come at a better time.
“With a number of national chain restaurants closing their in-store dining facilities and relying on delivery orders or drive-thru windows to get food orders to their customers,” he said. “Drive-thru’s are generally designed for automotive traffic, not semi-trucks.”
Truckers don’t often get compared to health care professionals when it comes to providing vital services to the community, but McLaughlin suggested that’s almost the case these days.
“Although we are all going through unprecedented times of fear and uncertainty,” he said. “It is an opportunity for our hospitality to shine.”