Chefs in the University of Guelph’s kitchens will prepare 500 meals each day to help feed Guelph’s most vulnerable citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The University’s Hospitality Services is supporting a program recently launched by The SEED, a not-for-profit organization at the Guelph Community Health Centre.
The SEED is dedicated to ending food insecurity in Guelph and to creating a community without barriers to healthy food. The new Emergency Food Home Delivery Program is in direct response to circumstances brought on by the pandemic, said the organization’s directing coordinator, Gavin Dandy.
“Right now, we have the capacity to participate because most of our restaurants on campus are closed,” said Ed Townsley, executive director of U of G’s Hospitality Services. “It seemed like a perfect match for the University.”
The meals will be prepared and frozen daily and picked up by The SEED for delivery to homes. U of G kitchens will produce meals until operations return to normal.
“Our regular chefs and staff are preparing the meals under the direction of executive chef Vijay Nair,” Townsley said, adding that Guelph Student Food Bank co-ordinator Clarissa Shepherd identified the opportunity to partner with The SEED.
Dandy said the program is for those most deeply affected during the pandemic because of isolation, lack of money and other circumstances. He said The SEED is working with city, county and public health officials to identify those most in need.
So far, 300 households connected to the Guelph Community Health Centre are being served. Dandy estimated that 50,000 meals will be served per week once the scope of the need in the broader community is known. Two other commercial kitchens are also preparing meals for the program.
The University had the expertise and personnel to prepare large numbers of meals, Townsley said. Hospitality Services is procuring food from its suppliers, providing recipes and packaging meals. The SEED has the logistical side covered, he said.
“It is extremely gratifying to help other community members during this time of need,” he said, adding that U of G students may be among those needing help. “It feels good to be working with a community organization like The SEED.”
Dandy said the University’s involvement came about quickly and smoothly.
“When U of G got on board, it put a big smile on my face,” he said. “It was such an easy path from the first conversation to making the first meals. Their generosity and professionalism are fantastic.”
Opportunities for the public to contribute to The SEED’s Emergency Food Home Delivery Program will soon be available on the organization’s website.