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This Ontario restaurant is holding an inflation sale for students to help them ‘catch a break’ | CBC News

A restaurant in London, Ont., is holding what it’s calling an inflation sale to help give students a break from rising food prices. 

Sultan Shawarma, a Middle Eastern restaurant in the city’s northwest, cut prices by $3 on chicken shawarma wraps for anyone with a student card. The two-day “inflation discount” sees the restaurant taking a loss of $1.50 on each sandwich.

“Everybody comes with a budget,” said Solomon Hasna, manager of the family-run business. “Sometimes it’s just impossible. This is really for the community, it’s for the students, it’s to help everybody catch a break.”

Canada’s new inflation numbers, released Wednesday, show the official inflation rate slowed for the third month in a row in September, but many goods and services continued to get costlier. Food purchased at stores rose at a pace of 11.4 per cent, the fastest pace in grocery bills since August 1981. In June, Canada’s consumer price index jumped by eight per cent — the country’s biggest hike for cost of living since 1983.

Sultan Shawarma discounted shawarmas as part of what it’s calling an inflation sale. The wraps were being sold at a loss, as the restaurant faces higher costs for ingredients. (Clement Goh/CBC News)

Hasna, who explains his restaurant is a community hub for students attending Sir Frederick Banting, Brescia and Western University, says the restaurant’s expenses have gone up, including tomatoes costing $1 more per pound.

Felix Wang, an economics student at Western who took advantage of the discount, said he appreciates the gesture but doesn’t feel bsinesses like Sultan’s should have to offer discounts to students.

“I don’t think the burden should be on them to do this,” Wang said. “At the end of the day, I don’t think this is their responsibility to do this.”

Wang said he tries to save money on food by taking advantage of loyalty programs, buying items in bulk to save grocery trips and preparing meals at home. 

“I think this is just a new normal we have to get used to, just like how COVID has become a new normal. I don’t see (prices) getting lower anytime soon.”

Customers at Sultan Shawarma say the restaurant shouldn’t have to take losses for students facing food insecurity. In June, Canada’s consumer price index jumped eight per cent – the biggest hike in almost 40 years (Clement Goh/ CBC News)

Another customer, Peter Jinson, was also appreciative of the shawarma deal, but feels larger food companies could make more of an impact by cutting their prices.

“I definitely appreciate it, but it’s not always feasible for a small business,” said Jinson. 

On Monday, Loblaw announced it was freezing prices on all No Name products for the next three months. Critics were quick to point out that grocery chains have made excessive profits at a time when consumers are stretched thin due to rising inflation.

For the family running Sultan Shawarma, Hasna said they were all students at one time, living on a budget and eating whatever was affordable. 

“Even in university, you want to have fun, you want to study, you want to keep your grades up and you want to have good food, whether your budget allows it,” Hasna said. 

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