Our Turn to Cook ‘Shines on’ during health pandemic

Community COVID-19 Featured Shine On

“Her generosity and care for the disenfranchised is to be commended …”

“Brenda and staff have innovated to make sure they could continue to provide us all the best food and service … and helping our most vulnerable people get good food…”

Praise for what Our Turn to Cook has done for local residents to get through the COVID-19 pandemic is being noticed — and loved — by the community.

The downtown New Glasgow business has been nominated two weeks in a row by two different people for Advocate Media’s Shine On campaign.

Business owner/operator Brenda Kennedy is quick to brush the accolades aside. She says she’s just “doing what I love to do: Show my love through food.”

She laughs, “I don’t even remember before (COVID-19).”

OTTC changed its entire business model within the first week of the health crisis back in mid-March. The popular business had been providing well balanced, home-cooked ready-made meals in single servings or family sizes and fresh salads and salad dressings and more. Kennedy started her business just two years ago and in that short time, her sparkling personality and love of cooking have propelled her business to a larger location and an increased dedicated clientele.

She stopped supplying all single-serve items and switched to doing deliveries only “because we didn’t want to encourage people to come in” for a one-of food item or smoothie, and “we didn’t want to encourage seniors to leave their homes.”

OTTC also switched from providing food for specific diets like Keto or gluten-free and dedicated itself instead to preparing the basics — “things we know we’re going to be able to get … and feed the masses.”

People crave comfort food in times of crisis because it brings them back to a time they felt safe. “When we were growing up it was meatloaf and mashed potatoes or ham and scalloped potatoes.” She laughs, “Now we’re not so much interested in how we’re going to look next month — which may be the best thing that ever came out of this. Maybe we’ll start putting a little more weight on the important things instead of what we look like.”

Feeling thankful is high up on her priority list these days. “It’s what gets me through every day. I am so thankful every day that I can have a routine, that I can help somebody, that I can still employ my employees.”

And she is thankful to be busy — even though it makes her workday twice as long as she now delivers all across Pictou County. “One night we went from Merigomish to Caribou Island to West River Station,” she laughs.

Within the first two weeks of changing its business model, OTTC received a phone call from one of the seniors homes in the county explaining that, due to COVID-19, it was not able to make all its meals every day; so OTTC partnered with them to provide one meal a day to the facility’s residents. That meant the business was preparing an additional 200 meals a day as well its regular business.

“But we were happy to be able to do it.”

Some weeks, Kennedy says, OTTC uses 500 pound of potatoes, 100 pounds of carrots and 200 pounds of turnip.

“I don’t even know if I’m going to remember how to make salad dressing,” she laughs.

“But how can you be anything but thankful?”

In addition to the hundreds of meals OTTC prepares a day, Kennedy still makes time to send meals to Viola’s Place Homeless Shelter, which she has been doing since the get-go.

Helping the vulnerable and providing fresh home-cooked meals delivered right to your door so you don’t have to go out has earned Our Turn to Cook a nomination in Advocate Media’s Shine On campaign which is aimed shining a light on outstanding businesses in Pictou County that are making a difference in their communities during these trying times. The businesses have a chance at being highlighted in the company’s newspapers, as well as winning $3,000 worth of free advertising for when the economy picks up.

Anyone wanting to nominate a business in the Shine On campaign can do so by connecting with the Shine On link on our website, www.pictouadvocate.com, or dropping a handwritten nomination with the business’s name, as well as your name, email address, phone number and reason for the nomination into our office at 21 George St., Pictou. You can also nominate your own business.