Camosun campaign aims to help local restaurants through pandemic

Taylor Reynolds at Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse in Saanichton, B.C. (CTV News)

Taylor Reynolds works at Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse in Saanichton, B.C., where she is the lead event coordinator. She has worked in the hospitality industry, on and off, for the last 10 years.

After getting her first office job she soon realized cubical life wasn’t a good fit.

“I realized it wasn’t for me and miss the hospitality life,” said Reynolds. “The hustle and bustle.”

She enrolled in Camosun College’s hospitality management program.

“We learn teamwork, leadership skills, event management skills which I’ve taken from that course and brought it into this career,” she said.

“They’re taking accounting, marketing, HR,” said Carl Everitt, chair of the hospitality and tourism management program at Camosun College. “All the things that they’re going to need to be effective managers out there in the industry.”

Now more than ever, the hospitality industry needs people with those skills.

“We estimate we’re about 30,000 to 40,000 people short in the industry,” said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the British Columbia Restaurant and Food Services Association.

With many people leaving the industry during the pandemic, the sector is in crisis.

So, from Sept. 16 to 23, Camosun is running a campaign called Food Affair.

“We came up with this idea that we would find 50 restaurants in the local community and during Camosun’s 50th birthday celebration, we would mobilize people from the college community to those restaurants,” said Everitt. “Just to give back to that community that has gone through a real tough time in the last year and a half.”

Sea Cider is one of those venues and that is where Taylor is now gainfully employed.

“I really enjoy it or else I wouldn’t be in this industry,” said Reynolds. “It is hard at times but I feel like, yeah, it’s really rewarding.”