When the hospital-kitchen decided they would no-longer cook for ‘Meals on Wheels’ during this difficult time, the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) approached us to make inexpensive healthy meals for their clients in need. We have catered a few meetings at their office and many of their nursing staff are customers of ours. They know our food but were not sure of our capacity to cook, and hold, 25 meals at a time.
Our immediate response was: ‘Of Course’. It aligned with our ‘year-3’ business plan, which was to expand into feeding seniors, professionally. We’re not ‘exactly’ set up as we would like to be for this service at this time, but it was always a part of our plan. When we looked at the age of the population in and around Amherst, we saw that there is a high population of elderly people in Cumberland County. The elderly population is very high, and those are people who may need ‘a little help’ to eat well. This is a population that has lived through hard times, worked hard, retired, and just wants to be happily retired. We saw an upcoming need.
To compound that upcoming ‘need’, we recognized that a high proportion of those people’s children (now working age), our age, have moved away seeking new opportunities. I did, and then moved back. I saw, then and moreso now, that my family would need ‘a little help’, support, maybe recognition or respect sometime soon. If I came back while I was still in the tax-paying years of my career, I would be here to help. In fact, at that time there was a government report circulating that what Nova Scotia needed was people in my age-group to move back here, with a couple of kids, and hey ‘while you’re at it bring a nurse’. So, That’s what I did. I wasn’t that manipulative. I’m joking.
For now, we’ve started cooking for the VON. We are selling the meals to them at our cost because: being a small company we still pay retail for our supplies (so our cost is quite high) and especially during this time of need, this is no time to profit from increased need for support. It was a minor adjustment since we use the same packaging for our meal combos, and since our sales had decreased we have the packages here and ready.
The hospital used a heat-seal system and different packaging. They are truly an INDUSTRIAL kitchen, with lots of space, walk-in coolers, lots of publicly funded machinery, and lots of publicly funded staff. The machinery is a huge benefit, in some regards, as long as there is lots of staff to operate it, because it will speed up certain processes or do some parts of the work a little better, such as packaging. Bulk-purchasing is the major advantage to the Hospital’s kitchen, since they can order in sufficient quantity to get a wholesale cost.
We’re working on it. We’re learning and using our packaging to do what we can.