Summer Street delivering healthy food for hungry bellies

Community COVID-19 Featured

Putting healthy food in hungry bellies is the focus of a new food delivery program.

Summer Street’s new Prepared Meals program is the new game in town when it comes to providing frozen food from fresh ingredients throughout Pictou County.

The program was developed to fill the gaps between other meal delivery programs that had ceased operating during the COVID-19 lockdown, explains Liz LaPier, manager, Community Development for Summer Street. And now it’s continuing.

Allister MacLean

“In June, a community partner of ours let us know of some funding that was available to community organizations that were interested in supporting food security needs of seniors and vulnerable adults. Since everything was shut down at that time, but we still had the capacity within the organization, we absolutely felt that was the right thing to do.”

From there, it was a matter of determining the best way to get the food out to the community because, as LePier acknowledges, “There are some systems in place in Pictou County, active meals on wheels types of groups, that do wonderful work.”

Velma Graham

The Provincial Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage with Efficiency One, Nova Scotia Power and the Home Warming group were trying to figure out how to support vulnerable adults and groups, particularly seniors across the province. And although the program was designed for seniors and the vulnerable population, LePier says Summer Street will not turn anyone down.

“Food security is already such a prevalent and serious public health concern in Nova Scotia that they knew the current circumstances (global health pandemic) were going to exasperate the systems we had in place,” LePier says. “And at the time a lot of those wonderful groups (doing meal delivery) had closed,” due to COVID-19 and the original shutdown.

LePier says she was told there are more meals on wheels type of delivery services in Pictou County than in any other area of Nova Scotia, but with the lockdown, many of these support systems were not delivering. So Summer Street wanted to get on board to deliver meals to vulnerable populations.

“And we wanted to carry this program even beyond the pandemic but in June, no one knew how long any of this would last. And we’re not trying to take over what any of the other groups do, we’re just trying to supplement what’s out there, or fill in the gaps in an already challenging problem.”

So the funding partners came on board and Summer Street prepared to do what it does best: create healthy meals. “And we decided to package them instead of serving them fresh to our patrons in the dining room.”

The meals are prepared fresh at Summer Street and frozen quickly so as to maintain all of their nutritional value, then delivered to people in the community. Examples of available dishes include home-style meatloaf with mashed potato and vegetable, chicken balls with vegetable rice and plum sauce, Hunter’s chicken with mashed potato and vegetable, homemade mac and cheese. “They’re well-rounded meals … they’re not highly salted which you’d get in a lot of frozen meals. And we’re only freezing them for a short period of time and only so they can be transported. They’re not produced in a large factory — it’s right here in our kitchen.”

The meal delivery program rolled out at the same time as the landscape locally was changing. “We have a lot of people in our community who have recently found themselves in a situation they have never been in before,” says LePier, “which is, needing support.”

Summer Street offers two options for the meal program: Meals can be purchased for $7 each, and there is also a no-pay option for those who have an inability to purchase the nutritious meals, no questions asked and no judgment passed. “Food insecurity isn’t always a financial issue. Sometimes it has to do with the inability to stand for long periods of time or even getting to the grocery store — and whether that’s the transportation itself or having a compromised health and needing to stay away from large group settings.” Regarding the no-pay option LePier stresses, “We want people to know that this is an option available to them if they find themselves in need, and whether it’s just for this week because they’re in between jobs, or they’ve had recent surgery … whatever the case is.

“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and maintaining your health requires healthy food, and that’s what we’re here for.”

The program has a two-fold benefit, since the meals are being prepared in Summer Street’s catering department. “That’s the great thing about this program: We’re helping people in the community and creating programming for our participants at the same time.”

The meals are available Monday through Friday and can be delivered weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or one time only. Summer Street has an intake form which details the frequency as well as the delivery schedule and notes any dietary restrictions. Contact Summer Street for details at 902-755-2810 or email reception@summerstreet.ca.


Darrell Williams in the Summer Street kitchen