Proposal to set up mobile canteen at the Merb denied

Bennett told menu didn’t meet Department of Natural Resources criteria

Published on July 6, 2014
Despite her efforts, Jacinthe Bennett won’t be serving at Melmerby Beach anytime soon. Her request to open at the provincial park as a mobile food vendor was turned down. 

MELMERBY BEACH - There won’t be any snacks at the Merb anytime soon.

Jacinthe Bennett, owner of mobile business Jiggy Java, recently tried to set up shop at the provincial park, but she says she was told her menu didn’t follow guidelines.

She claims they told her they weren’t concerned with parks having services.

“That’s what really bothered me – that they weren’t concerned,” she said, adding that she believes Melmerby Beach is one of the nicest in province, and thinks it should be able to offer snacks and water to its patrons. “I thought they’d welcome that.”

Bennett bought her mobile canteen last summer, and sent a letter in January to the province, hoping to start this summer.

She finally heard back in June and was given a few days to submit a 59-page request for proposal, she said.

She said she was told her menu of water, Gatorade, apples, bananas and other snacks didn’t meet the criteria.

A spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources wasn’t able to answer questions about the guidelines and process immediately as resources were concentrating on reopening parks after post-tropical storm Arthur.

A food vendor request for proposals with a deadline of June 18 on the Nova Scotia Parks website, listing Melmerby Beach as one of the possible food vendor locations, identifies several criterions including a focus on healthy food and beverages that details the amount of nutrition a menu item should have.

Bennett has been serving the community at places like the YMCA, soccer fields and the farmers market for 12 years.

“I wanted to expand my business and offer something non-existent,” she said.

A release from the Progressive Conservative caucus suggests that government red tape is hurting small businesses.

“Nova Scotia needs entrepreneurs like Jacinthe. Instead we have a Liberal government that can’t even manage the process of allowing canteens to operate at a provincial park,” said Pictou East MLA Tim Houston in the release. “They literally left her hanging for months before ultimately slamming the door in her face without any warning or discussion.”

Bennett says she wishes the government had worked with her to adapt her menu so she could have served the beach this summer.

She has the option to try again next summer.

“That’s next year,” she said.

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