Setting the table for compassion

Jeff Brierley’s Community Impact through Brierley’s Your Independent GrocerJeff Brierley’s Community Impact through Brierley’s Your Independent Grocer Jeff Brierley, the owner of Brierley’s Your Independent Grocer (YIG), has always been passionate about giving back to his local community. Inspired by his long-term goal of becoming a franchisee, Jeff connected more deeply with his store and sought opportunities to make a difference. In response to a demographic study revealing poverty in Riverside South, Jeff recognized the urgent need for food assistance. He reached out to the Ottawa Food Bank, leveraging his existing relationship with the charity. After speaking at a community partner meeting, Jeff offered his store as the location for The Community Table, a volunteer-run food bank. Jeff redesigned the store to create an efficient and welcoming space for The Community Table Food Pantry, which officially opened its doors in May 2024. To prioritize the dignity of those in need, the food bank is located discreetly within the store, accessible through PC Express. While Jeff is proud of this initiative, he avoids publicizing it within the store. He believes that everyone deserves to feel comfortable and respected when accessing food assistance. Jeff’s commitment to his community extends beyond this food bank. He delivers food baskets with his family during the holidays and supports youth through basketball coaching. Jeff’s belief in the role of food retailers in giving back drives his efforts. He sees grocers as having the unique ability to provide essential resources and make a significant impact on their communities. Through Brierley’s YIG, Jeff continues to prioritize the well-being and empowerment of his Riverside South neighborhood.

Jeff Brierley always knew he wanted to make a difference in the local community, from coaching basketball teams across the street from his store to delivering baskets of food with his family to people in need during the holidays.

With a long-term goal of becoming a franchisee, he accepted the role of store owner for what is now known as Brierley’s Your Independent Grocer® (YIG) in 2023 and felt more connected to the store than ever before. “Knowing that this is now ‘my space’ has made this fun on a whole other level,” says Jeff. “Everyone is nice, the customers are amazing, and I’ve built such meaningful relationships. It really feels like home.”

A time of need created an opportunity for Brierley’s to directly support their local community; after a demographic study was conducted, it was found that there were over 600 households living below the poverty line in Riverside South. Food banks across the city were overwhelmed with families in need of food and many other resources, which in some cases has doubled or tripled since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“I believe that as food operators we have a huge opportunity (almost a privilege) to help people,” says Jeff. “Grocers have the natural ability to give back more than the average person and can make such an impact.”

Last year, Jeff was invited to a Riverside South councillor community partner meeting and spoke about his relationship with the Ottawa Food Bank, a charity he has been involved with for years. After hearing about the need for food and space to house another local food bank, it was a no-brainer. Jeff immediately offered his store to host The Community Table, a 100% volunteer-run food bank in Riverside South.

Jeff cleaned out what was previously a dietician’s office and worked with an engineer to design the space effectively and efficiently. The Community Table Food Pantry officially opened its doors at Brierley’s YIG on May 6, 2024.

While proud of this initiative, it is not something that is widely publicized in the store. There is no signage directing customers to the food bank and everything is located inside the space, to make those in need feel like any other customer. When customers enter, they are escorted by PC Express to pick up their items.

“If there’s an opportunity to help, I want to give back,” Jeff says. “The way we can impact our community the most is with food. People need it and we have the resources to provide it, so that’s exactly what I want to do.”


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *