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Jun. 2, 2020 | Tuesday
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COVID-19: Quest for protein bars turns into 16,000 bar order
United Way Niagara volunteers Krista Butters, Daryl Crosby and pharmacy owner Sean Simpson load protein bars into delivery vehicles. (Jessica Maxwell/Niagara Now/The Lake Report)

What started as a request to find protein bars for residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake long-term care facilities turned into a 16,000 bar order supporting people across Niagara Region. 

Sean Simpson of Simpson’s Pharmacy was approached by town employee Beth Audet and asked about helping the town buy some protein bars for people in long-term care homes. 

“At that time, Beth said, ‘Can you get about 800 bars?’ and I thought, ‘Geez, I’m ordering 800 bars, I might be able to get a decent deal on it,’ ” Simpson says. 

So he reached out to the manufacturer of Pure Protein and actually got through to the distributor in Canada.  

“They’re based in Manitoba and so they were able to actually give us a pretty heavy discount,” he said. “We went from our cost being well over $1 to being able to bring down the cost to just fractions of that.”  

When he told the town about the cost, they wanted to double the order, allowing the town “to get twice as many bars as they had planned for far less than they had budgeted,” he said. 

Being a board member for United Way Niagara, Simpson also thought to reach out to executive director Frances Hallworth to see if there was a need for more protein bars.  

“When she found out about the low cost and the availability we went from ordering what started with 800 bars and ended up just short of 16,000,” Simpson said.  

United Way now has 13,000 protein bars to be distributed through different agencies across Niagara, including the St.George’s Church breakfast program, Project Share and many others.  

“I’m a fan of these bars because they’re low in sugar and they’ve got a good amount of protein,” Simpson said. “It’s great to see how much it can impact and especially with United Way.” 

“They have all these connections, so they can connect to all these different agencies and find out where the need is. I think that’s where it really helps to see that level of impact and that level of connectivity throughout the region.” 

Simpson recognizes there already was a huge need in the community before the coronavirus pandemic really hit but says he knows the economic effect has really grown. 

“We’ve got so many hospitality workers and people in the tourism sector that are impacted, so it’s nice to be able to fulfill some sort of need,” Simpson said. 

“I’m sure the need is way beyond what we can estimate but every little bit helps at this time.” 

Simpson said he hopes to see everyone get back on their feet soon, but as someone operating an essential business, he is happy “to be able to give back in some way and to be able to use our resources and connections. That’s the most rewarding.” 

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