Elevation Labs

CEO Michael Hughes poses for a photo at Elevation Labs on Monday, August 31, 2020.

Talking business over lunch has long been a common practice. Before the coronavirus pandemic, that is. Now, in the age of masking and social distancing, businesses everywhere are halting those classic business lunches.

Due to rising COVID-19 numbers, the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce recently canceled its “Out of the Box” events in which people in the local business community network with one another over lunch. The events typically draw in between 80 to 100 people.

Chamber CEO Chip Schwarze decided to “turn the cancellation into something positive.” He asked everyone who had prepaid for the lunch whether they would be willing to have that money go to the Community Food Basket — Idaho Falls instead of receiving a refund. Everyone said yes.

Schwarze then got the idea to create a wider-reaching event: Hope Lunches. The Hope Lunches campaign asks people to donate the amount they may have once spent on a lunch to the Community Food Basket.

“There’s a lot of support for this already,” Schwarze said.

Elevation Labs President Michael Hughes decided to join the campaign by donating $3,000 to Hope Lunches and is encouraging other businesses to do the same. Elevation Labs has canceled both employee lunches and client lunches during the pandemic.

“We immediately thought it was a great concept. We just loved the idea. We’re sensitive to how many people are struggling because of the coronavirus. It’s important to feed people during this time of need and during the holidays,” said Cassandra Hume, director of marketing at Elevation Labs.

Schwarze is hoping the campaign will raise $15,000 to $20,000. In the first two days, he has raised almost $5,000. Schwarze said these cash donations are especially important because the Community Food Basket has access to resources that allow it to stretch $1 in cash into $5 worth of food.

“They could leverage $20,000 into $100,000 to keep them going through the spring,” Schwarze said.

To donate, go idahofallschamber.com/event/hope and buy a lunch ticket for either $9, $12 or $15. All proceeds will go to the Community Food Basket – Idaho Falls. The campaign ends Dec. 20.