Joanne Lechner, Batch Foods head chef and owner, prepares the Langley meal maker’s popular “Gnocci Doklie Bowl” talian cuisine (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Joanne Lechner, Batch Foods head chef and owner, prepares the Langley meal maker’s popular “Gnocci Doklie Bowl” talian cuisine (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Local delivery and food pickup for seniors is way, way up during the pandemic

While in-person dining and catering has been hurt, pre-made meals are selling well

Seniors are more likely than ever to have meals delivered, and they have more options as businesses adjust to the changing demands of the pandemic.

In Langley, operators of a private catering company, a local seniors centre, and the Langley Meals on Wheels all report their deliveries and pickup services have substantially increased – driven largely by demand from older customers.

At the Langley Senior Resources Society (LSRS) centre, the cafeteria kitchen has been keeping busy by making up meals for clients to pick up.

Adam Murphy, interim executive director of the centre, said they were forced to close the Timms cafe that operates at the Langley City community centre, and their catering business has had to shut down.

But their Meals To Go pick-up service is another story.

LSRS has been cooking an average of 2,000 meals a month, and thanks to a grant of $25,000 from Centra – a Walnut Grove-based window manufacturer – they can continue to provide free meals to those in the greatest need.

“That will give us almost a year (of free meals),” Murphy estimated.

In December, 180 free meals were distributed, and that doubled in January.

READ ALSO: Langley seniors’ centre cooks up program to feed struggling seniors

Murphy said the centre cooks have begun offering a “higher-end specialty meal” once a month.

In December, they provided a “full-service” turkey meal, and for New Year’s, a steak and prawns dinner.

“It (the steak dinner)] was very popular,” Murphy remarked.

The Meals To Go program is actually serving more meals than the centre cafeteria did when it was open, “simply because we’re connecting with so many more people,” Murphy said.

Meals are $7 for members and $8 for non-members, pre-ordered the day before and can be picked up from the side door of the centre between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays.

To order from the centre, people can call 604-530-3020 ext. 315

Langley Meals on Wheels (MOW) vice-chair Kathy Reddington said the charitable, non-profit society – that provides affordable menu plans and social meal programs – is busier than ever.

Before COVID-19 hit, they were distributing 300 meals at a time, and that has now more than doubled to 697.

“People are calling because they don’t know where [else] to turn to,” Reddington said.

Among the challenges MOW had to overcome as the pandemic took hold, a drop in the number of volunteer delivery people.

“One of the issues was, a lot of the volunteers were seniors, and due to personal precaution, people were stepping back,” Reddington explained.

Fortunately, other volunteers from the Langley Township and City fire departments, as well as Telus, stepped up.

“They filled the gap,” Reddington said.

READ MORE: Langley firefighters answer call for volunteers at Meals on Wheels

All proceeds from the Boutique Finds thrift store, at 20408 Douglas Cres. in Langley City, are going to support Meals on Wheels services, including subsidizing meals for seniors in need.

“(We) don’t turn people away, and people who need a subsidy, will get a subsidy,” Reddington said.

Subsidized meals were about 25 per cent of Meals On Wheels deliveries pre-pandemic, now, it is “closer to 50 per cent.”

Volunteers do more than just deliver, they check on client’s well-being on delivery days, Reddington added.

“They ask if anything is different from their last visit,” Reddington described. “There’s a relationship of trust.”

Langley MOW can be reached at 604-533-1679.

At Batch Food in Langley, head chef and owner, Joanne Lechner lost all her catering and business contracts when COVID-19 hit.

“Our business has changed a lot,” Lechner explained. “I feel like we’re rebuilding now.”

Lechner, a Red Seal-certified chef, had just completed the relocation of her business from Richmond to Langley – which turned out to be a well-timed shift of sites, with Batch now located in the middle of all the potential customers in the Lower Mainland.

“The location of the business is so good for deliveries,” Lechner observed.

“That’s where we’re focusing all our efforts.”

On the day a Langley Times Advance reporter visited, Lechner was assembling a few dozen of Bath’s popular “Gnocci Doklie Bowl” Italian meal.

“That’s a very small batch,” Lechner noted.

“We normally make 60.”

Batch focuses on comfort food, with one of the most popular sellers being a turkey dinner meal.

Lechner estimates Batch prepares, on average, 12,000 items a week, roughly double their pre-COVID rate.

Roughly half of their customers are seniors.

Batch offers delivery twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays and pickup as well, with advance orders placed Saturdays and Mondays online at www.batchfood.com, or by phone at 604-533-0700, as well as limited in-store shopping at6280 202 St.

It delivers to Langley, White Rock, Surrey, Delta, North Delta, Ladner, Tsawwassen, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Fort Langley, Walnut Grove, Aldergrove, Abbotsford, Mission, Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby and New Westminster.

Delivery is free for veterans.


Have a story tip? Email: dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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