Grant Refuels Meals on Wheels

ECF funding subsidizes meals for Edmontonians in need during COVID-19

Edmonton non-profit Meals on Wheels has done a lot to adapt to life under COVID-19.

“Everything has shifted at Meals on Wheels,” said Executive Director Liz Tondu.

In the organization’s kitchen, staff and volunteers meticulously follow COVID-19 social-distancing guidelines and food-preparation protocols when preparing and packaging meals. Out in the community, volunteer drivers delivering food to clients have their own procedures to prevent themselves and the organization’s clients from contracting the novel coronavirus during the pandemic.

Tondu adds that it’s been “all hands on deck” because of increased demand for Meals on Wheels’ services. Many elderly and immune-compromised Edmontonians are staying home as much as possible to avoid contracting COVID-19, which can be life-threatening, and are turning to the organization for help. Tondu expects the non-profit’s client base to grow even more as the weather gets colder and it becomes trickier for older folks to do their own grocery shopping.

As if this isn’t enough of a challenge, Meals on Wheels has also faced increased costs of food, packaging, and fuel that they haven’t wanted to pass on to clients — especially the most vulnerable ones. “The people we serve are on fixed incomes and have had increased expenses in some ways because of COVID-19,” Tondu said. “They can’t afford an increase in fees.”

Thankfully, a $75,000 grant from ECF, via the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Service Response Fund (ECSF), will help offset some of these extra costs.

“Meals on Wheels receive one of ECF’s first COVID-related grants, to purchase a new piece of equipment to significantly increase their capacity,” Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement said. “But as the pandemic changes, so do the required responses from Edmonton’s non-profit community.”

The grant is being put toward the purchase of food, packaging materials, and other items needed to prepare meals for clients who qualify for the organization’s subsidy program.

“We’re very fortunate to have a strong crew and team here, so they’re able to manage the mandated public health orders, and package and produce the food,” said Tondu. “But the support of the community, especially the Edmonton Community Foundation, is so valued and important to our work.”