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Original article published September 29, 2020 in The South Asian Post.

BC’s dairy farmers are standing tall in the fall with the South Asian community.

As the prospect of a ‘twindemic’ with the flu season hitting us along with the COVID-19 pandemic, BC’s dairy farmers are stepping up again to lend a hand to the South Asian community with a second-hand sanitization program.

The first “It’s in your hands”  program was launched in conjunction with the Vaisakhi celebrations in Surrey and Vancouver by local entrepreneur Harbinder Singh Sewak with support from the B.C. Dairy Association.

"The health of our communities is very important to dairy farmers and we are happy to continue to support the hand sanitizer program into the fall,” said Jeremy Dunn, general manager of the BC Dairy Association (BCDA)

As the $100,000 pilot program winds down, demand for the Asli Alooatta hand sanitizers continues to grow, especially with Health Canada warning the public about products using industrial-grade ethanol that has not been authorized for use in hand sanitizers in Canada.

Health officials said "frequent use of these products may result in dry skin, causing irritation or cracking. Since industrial-grade ethanol has not been approved for use in hand sanitizers in Canada, the Department has not reviewed it for safety or efficacy."

It has recalled more than 50 hand sanitizer products.

Sewak said the “It’s in your hands”  program uses Ethyl Alcohol-based skin-softening sanitizer made in BC using purified water and fresh Aloe Vera juice.

“It has been approved by Health Canada and is gaining a lot of traction in the community after our outreach program was launched with the BC Dairy Farmers,” he said.

“We are now expanding the program to other groups and companies who want to help the community and channelling whatever we can from the sales to charity organizations,” said Sewak, the CEO of the Surrey-based Alooatta.com

“We have been distributing the Alooatta hand sanitizers at over 40 gurdwaras, senior centres and South Asian community centres…and the reaction has been fantastic.”

“Our world revolves around our Gurdwaras, which are part of our extended community. When the BC milk farmers first started this caring and responsible corporate concept of sewa (sacrifice) I was so impressed, that I made a video and sent that to everyone I knew here in Canada, England and India. This is a great example of corporate giving,” said Jas Mann. owner of J&D Kitchen Woodworks in Abbotsford.

Regular visits to the Gurdwara are important for Subway store manager Simranjeet Gill her husband Amandeep Gill who attends services at their local Sikh temple with their newborn baby Jaikirat Singh Gill.

“I had my baby recently and his safety is very important for my family. When I see the dispenser in my Gurdwara in Surrey, I'm so happy that BC dairy farmers care about the safety, of our little baby,” said Simranjeet Gill.

“It’s all about locals caring about locals during COVID-19,” said Rita Sharma, an international student at BCIT in Vancouver as she described the community initiative.

“Putting the hand sanitizers out there, for everyone to use freely, to me is the biggest value I have seen in a pandemic related community program,” she said.

Alooatta.com’s hand sanitizer manufacturing and distribution operations have also helped bolster the Surrey Makes PPE program. In less than six months, Surrey Makes PPE manufacturers have surpassed $10M in sales, said the City of Surrey.

Surrey Makes PPE was launched in response to the growing demand for made-in-Canada PPE from government, health authorities and local businesses seeking to protect both staff and customers. This Surrey initiative coordinates bulk buying opportunities of locally made PPE for all Canadian Health Authorities and Government Agencies.

Since its inception, Surrey Makes PPE manufacturers have supplied communities across Canada with over:

775,000 litres of disinfectants and hand sanitizers

600,000 disinfectant wipes

322,500 face shields

18,500 fabric face masks

13,000 gowns

5200 barriers

“As we head into fall, it is crucial that we have our own domestic manufacturing sector producing PPE in Canada for Canadians,” said Mayor Doug McCallum.

“Surrey Makes PPE allows us to be self-sufficient in this vital area, so we don’t have to rely on external suppliers for critical PPE supplies. Surrey manufacturers have pivoted to meet the needs of our health-care professionals, frontline workers, and essential businesses and are now expanding to produce N-95 masks,” he said.

If you are interested in purchasing and distributing Asli Alooatta hand sanitizers during the current health crisis please email contact@alooatta.com or visit the website at alooatta.com.

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