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Turkey dinners delivered to vulnerable citizens and seniors on Family Day

By Paul Forsyth - Port Colborne Leader
Tuesday, February 16, 2021

With the skill and grace of a piano prodigy, Sarah Eller’s fingers danced across the turkey carcasses in gleaming stainless steel containers at the Port Cares Reach Out Centre’s commercial-grade kitchen in Port Colborne on Monday, expertly deboning the meat that was destined for the kitchen tables of vulnerable people, including seniors, in the city.

To mark Family Day while the pandemic that’s caused so much hardship for so many continues to rage on, the registered charity prepared homestyle turkey dinners, including tomato sauce, vegetables, mashed potatoes, beans and garlic bread, for its regular meal program clients to pick up.

Fire Chief Tom Cartwright and Deputy Chief Scott Lawson also volunteered to hand-deliver about 50 of the hot meals to vulnerable seniors across the city.

Christine Clark Lafleur, executive director of Port Cares, said her agency is seriously concerned about the well-being of a growing number of families and seniors facing hardship because of the pandemic, including social isolation, job loss, low income and the difficulties in finding and holding onto safe and affordable housing.

Monday’s meal preparation, pickup and delivery was all about letting vulnerable people, including seniors, know they’re not alone, she said.

“One of the toughest aspects for families, no matter how large or small, has been the social isolation,” said Clark Lafleur. “Through the past 11 months, (in) all of our programs, including employment and training, child development services and our food bank, we’ve heartbreakingly witnessed the strain on families due to the pandemic.”

Clark Lafleur said her agency is seeing anywhere from 60 to more than 120 people showing up to pick up hot meals when they’re served three times a week, and said the number of people registered for the meal program who must demonstrate they live on low incomes has exploded from 379 before the pandemic to 608 now.
“That’s kind of mind-blowing,” she said inside the kitchen. “That kind of knocked me off my chair.”

The agency also has more than 1,700 people registered for its emergency food bank.

Clark Lafleur said it’s particularly important to ensure that vulnerable seniors are taken care of.

“Port Colborne has one of the highest senior populations in Canada,” she said. “Now more than ever, our community needs to assist our local seniors to maintain their health, well-being and independence.”
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