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Good Shepherd Centre kitchen stays open to ensure vulnerable population receive meals

“I told everyone that we would keep going because we have too many people who rely on us”
Good Shepherd Centre kitchen stays open to ensure vulnerable population receive meals

When the novel coronavirus began spreading into Canada, nobody knew how they would be affected, if at all. But many organizations who deal with our vulnerable population were well into preparations and were ready to implement plans on a moment’s notice.

“It was March 11 when we got the call that everything was changing,” says Matthew Bruzas, lead hand at The Good Shepherd Centre kitchen. “I told everyone that we would keep going because we have too many people who rely on us.”

The fact is, the kitchen staff make meals for up to 600 people a day during normal times.

There was a lot to consider. The dining room at The Good Shepherd Centre is spacious but is inadequate when guests must be accommodated while maintaining a two-metre distance.

And what if the coronavirus sickened our staff and volunteers, and only one or two people could work the normally bustling kitchen.

Following an urgent brainstorming session, a plan was developed.

Only two clients who were staying at the men’s shelter could sit at a table in the dining room, thus maintaining the two-metre requirement. Community lunches would be handed out in prepared packages that contain nutritious meals. And a two-week supply of cooked protein was prepared so that a skeleton crew would only have to cook vegetables and starches.

It all worked out. The prepared meals now contain two meat sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, crackers, fruit and a muffin. The menu, which is carefully considered to help build up the immunity of members of the community who are particularly at risk, is switched every week so guests receive a variety of meals.

It all worked out. The prepared meals now contain two meat sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, crackers, fruit and a muffin. The menu, which is carefully considered to help build up the immunity of members of the community who are particularly at risk, is switched every week so guests receive a variety of meals.

Fortunately, the community also saw the dilemma faced by social service agencies and their clients, and stepped up.

“We have had an onslaught of food donations, which helped us out so much,” says Matthew. “We’ve been able to use everything. Thankfully, nothing has been thrown out.”

Small businesses and corporations have been particularly generous despite the fact that they are also reeling from the effects of the pandemic.

“When the pandemic first started, I think we had every restaurant in the city come to us with their food. We could barely get anything else into our fridge,” says Matthew, who remains astounded by the continuing displays of generosity.

Soon, larger corporations like Starbucks, VIA Rail and Flamboro Downs began regularly sending more high-quality food to Good Shepherd. Now, Care4Cause, a non-profit in Brampton is sending hundreds of prepared meals on a weekly basis to lessen the load on Good Shepherd.

Matthew, like all of us at Good Shepherd, are grateful for the kindness shown by the community. After all, it’s not the organization that ultimately benefits from the donations, it’s the people.

© 2020 Good Shepherd