A NEW web-based directory App, EatForIreland, (www. eatforireland.ie) has been launched, connecting Irish shoppers and diners with Irish food producers and the hospitality sector during the Covid-19 crisis.
The app is free and was developed by Donal Moran, Managing Director of Cork-based software company, WASP Technologies, and Irish food writer Joe McNamee, who worked on its editorial content and structure.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, Joe McNamee, fellow food writer for The Echo’s sister paper, Irish Examiner, has dedicated his weekly food column, The Menu, to help raise awareness of food businesses who switched up to provide an offering online and inline with government guidance during the Covid-19 crisis.
“I immediately converted my weekly Irish Examiner food column, The Menu, into a sort of community bulletin board for the food world, in an attempt to alert readers to the alternative initiatives being employed to find new ways of delivering to the Irish customer, but was almost immediately overwhelmed by the response, simply too much for me to cover adequately,” says Joe.
“So when Donal came to me with his idea for the app, it was pretty much a no-brainer, I was on board straight away and, roughly one week later, we had EatForIreland,” adds Joe.
EatForIreland is available for use by all outlets, producers and consumers throughout the 32 counties of Ireland.
It is especially useful to those people currently confined to home during the Covid-19 crisis, and unable to go out to the shops, particularly, elderly people ‘cocooning’, the immuno compromised and those self-isolating — either with the virus or displaying symptoms — as it provides a one-stop shop directory that can be filtered by location to see what is available where you are.
Donal Moran explains: “I was in Kinsale in our campervan for a night with my wife pre-lockdown but after the restaurants and bars had been closed. We were trying to find restaurants that were offering a takeaway service, but there was no central source of this info.
“My background is in software development, and my own company, WASP Technologies, deals with many of Irelands largest food companies, so I could see first-hand the strain being put on the nation’s food supply chain.
“We are all struggling to think of what we can do to help during this period, and so the app was born.
“Our hope is that we can succeed in easily connecting food producers with new customers through our app, and we make a meaningful contribution during these challenging times.”
There are two primary categories: Cook It Yourself, connecting Irish food shoppers with the very finest of Irish produce, and Cooked For You, connecting Irish diners, wanting to ‘eat out at home’ for a change, with hospitality outlets still offering food for collection or delivery.
EatForIreland allows independent food businesses to advertise themselves to consumers who, in turn, are seeking the very finest of Irish food and are keen to support the Irish food world through these very troubled times.
Food businesses (producers, independent food retailers or hospitality outlets) upload their information and link to details of their revised trading model following safe selling guidelines for their sector as advised by the HSE.
Consumers can then search in their locality and filter results to search for a specific product or type of food and the set about ordering.
EatForIreland is a web-based directory app, not a shopping app, so it links consumers to the individual member’s primary web page with details of how to order, purchase and collect or take delivery of the particular member’s offering.
It is especially applicable to those businesses operating home delivery services or pre-ordered, pre-paid contactless collection services.
As well as catering for individual independent businesses, EatForIreland also features independent producer or market groups such as Neighbourfood, Real Bread Ireland or many other regional groupings such as Sligo Food Trails or Boyne Valley Flavours that have come together as umbrella organisations to jointly promote a local offering.
“Many independent Irish food businesses who have done so much to build a thoroughly deserved and ever-growing international reputation for the island of Ireland as one of the best places in the world to eat, are finding their businesses, many of them built up over years, gravely threatened by the economic destruction of Covid-19,” says Joe.
“Many of those businesses have found traditional markets have vanished overnight.
“Restaurants, cafes and other hospitality outlets, all now closed, can no longer welcome diners into their premises.
Growers, producers and producers of specialty foods, many of whom exclusively supplied the hospitality sector or sold direct to consumers at farmer’s markets, are now struggling to get their products to the consumer.”
“The response of the Irish food world has, as always, been immediate, innovative and brave, and the Irish public have responded in kind, expressing a huge desire to support this very valued sector, but connecting the two has been problematic.”
Donal and Joe fervently hope EatForIreland will help to re-establish a greatly threatened chain, doing their bit to bring together once more Irish consumers with the very finest native fare, to feed and comfort us during troubled times and to ensure the continued viability of the many magnificent Irish food enterprises that they might still be there for us when we emerge from our homes once more.
“We sincerely hope it will have some impact,” says Joe, “because protecting Irish food is not just about serving up fancy treats at the weekend.
“This is also about protecting jobs and protecting our national food security right across the island, and to ensure we come through this with our superb food sector still able to deliver some of the very finest food to be found anywhere in the world.”