A grassroots initiative of The Crossing at Ghost River to prepare and deliver free meals to those disadvantaged has more than doubled in size over the past month.
On Apr. 9, executive chef Doug Ghanum delivered the first 40-plus meals. Now they're busy preparing 100 individual meals, 100 containers of soup, and 20 food hampers every week. All are being provided free of charge, with costs largely being covered by The Crossing, and its parent company Coril Holdings Ltd.
A pair of fundraisers has helped as well.
Right now, they are offering a Mother's Day special.
Offered is a meal for two of minestrone soup, sautéed beef tenderloin tips, and chocolate mousse for $50.
Those who purchase the meals will be picking them up at a designated time on Friday with a noncontact method incorporated.
"It's all simply to reheat, and 100 per cent of the money that we get from that is going right back into the initiative that we have going on, and paying for the packaging and food to keep things moving along."
Only 40, 2-person meals were available, and right now only about a half dozen remain available.
Before this, they had a successful cheesecake fundraiser within their company. It raised $1,550, with a matching amount donated by our parent company. Additional costs for the food we buy to prepare the meals for the charities are covered by The Crossing.
Ghanum oversees the meal and hampers program. Each week he delivers the meals to partners Helping Hands, FCSS, Homes for Heroes, the Veterans Association Food Bank, and Cochrane churches.
Weekly, they've been preparing 150 to 200 litres of soup. Mainly casserole-style meals are prepare, like curried and sweet and sour pork, jambalaya, and assorted pasta dishes. In addition, he delivers 20 meal hampers. Each contains six or seven meals.
"As soon as they're prepared, we freeze them, and then I can transport them frozen and everything is safe to get to people," he says.
In Cochrane, they are delivered with the assistance of Helping Hands and local churches.
They've been practicing safe physical distancing in preparing the meals, and only one person works in the kitchen at a time.
"So far, we've been pretty lucky that we've been able to keep up working five days a week."
He says there's been a positive response to the offer of help.
"Initially, I think no one knew what to expect from us. It's an opportunity for us to give back to the community."
"It's been well received. Lots of big smiles. No handshakes, but everybody's excited to see us."
They intend to continue providing the free meals as long as their operation remains closed.
The Crossing at the Ghost River is located 25 km northwest of Cochrane on Hwy. 40. It offers corporate and personal retreats, on-site meetings, special events, weddings, and family programs.