We are proud to announce that Gordon Neighbourhood House in collaboration with The West End Seniors Network has now prepared and delivered 5,000 nutritious meals during COVID-19!
This milestone has been made possible with financial support from the United Way’s Safe Seniors, Strong Communities (SSSC) program & Local Love Food Hub initiative.
Although the tree-lined streets and sandy beaches of the West End can leave the impression of an affluent neighbourhood, the West End has long struggled with food insecurity. The downtown neighbourhood has among the lowest median household incomes in the City, including a large population of seniors on fixed incomes, and single parent households.
“We all know how hard it is to get through an average day on an empty stomach,” said Siobhan Powlowski, Gordon Neighbourhood House Executive Director. “Imagine trying to get through a pandemic and economic crisis under the shadow of food insecurity. We have a responsibility to ensure every person in this neighbourhood has access to good food during this trying time, and I am deeply proud of our team’s hard work to put 5,000 nutritious, home-cooked meals on the table this year.”
The SSSC initiative is a joint effort between Gordon Neighbourhood House and the West End Seniors Network. While WESN coordinates the registration and enrollment process, GNH coordinates the meal preparation and delivery.
At the heart of the GNH kitchen is Community Chef Amanda Bacaleinick. Due to COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions, Amanda has often worked alone preparing the hundreds of meals. Her menu is extremely diverse, and examples of past meals have included: Blue Cheese Pasta, Coq au Vin, Peanut Stew, Chicken Jambalaya, and Creamy Salmon & Dill Gratin to name a few. All of the meals take into account the unique dietary restrictions and requirements of the elderly recipients, and the menu has even included special meals to celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas holidays.
After carefully ensuring the meals are cooked, cooled, and plated following strict food preparation guidelines in GNH’s kitchen, the frozen meals are then delivered in directly to community members via courier bike.
“It’s a labour of love,” said Chef Amanda, when asked about what the 5,000 meal milestone means to her. “This is my way of ensuring our community is cared for—through nutrition, color, and choice of good loving food.”
Many of the meals are being distributed to seniors at heightened risk during the COVID-19 pandemic—and for many, the food brings a welcome relief.
“My health is not so good, and so everything was a little scary in April,” said one anonymous participant. “Especially with the long queues and empty shelves in the stores. Now I have stocked up with new perishables and meals, I feel comforted that I can get through another tough time like that.”
“I am 88 and almost blind,” said another recipient. “Usually I would cook one large casserole a week, divide into portions and then eat the same meal for several days. With your meals I get variation and new eating experiences–it gives me something to look forward to.”
The delivery of 5,000 meals would not be possible without staff support from: Kari Kesslar (Response Hub Manager at WESN), Jenn Mason, Stephanie Woo, Jessy Scaria, Linda Minamimaye, and Joey Liu. If you would like to support Gordon Neighbourhood House or are interested in getting involved, please visit gordonhouse.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROGRAM UPDATE: As of January 16th, 2021 we have now prepared and delivered 6,489 meals.