by Jim McGregor/Special to The Star
Hundreds of meals a week will soon be rolling out of a new commercial kitchen in Aldergrove, destined for tables and freezers of local seniors and shut-ins.
Langley Meals on Wheels (LMOW) is days away from opening new and recently renovated digs, the newly re-named Aldergrove Community Station House (formerly the Aldergrove firehall and more recently the Milsean coffee shop).
It’s a transformed space that comes complete with its own kitchen from which to prepare meals for delivery throughout the community, beamed executive director Shannon Woykin.
“It is getting very close for the kitchen to be open. All the equipment is up and running, and we are waiting for the necessary inspections and approvals. And once we have those in place, we will be opening the doors, hopefully by the end of April,” she said.
Woykin said she and her staff are excited.
“Our kitchen at Aldergrove is amazing. The space is exciting and beyond our wildest dreams. We are going to be able to engage with the community like never before,” she said.
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MOW meal providers were Gateway of Hope and during COVID they also utilized the Southridge Church kitchen.
“At that time, we will continue to use our current food providers and begin using the Aldergrove kitchen at the same time, then slowly transition everything to Aldergrove,” she explained.
Woykin notes that the operation increased approximately 35 per cent at the start of COVID, and in this past year MOW on-boarded more than 600 new clients.
She noted they’re getting inquiries from a wider range of ages and people in need of service for varying reasons.
“Sometimes they may just need our services short term for medical reasons or a short respite and some are long term,” Woykin noted. “We are a very affordable meal program for people, so we have seen a steady growth.”
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Woykin commented on how Meals on Wheels is going to be able to serve the community in general.
“We will be able to run culinary teaching programs, other service providers will be able to take Food Safe programs here, we can teach canning skills – the potential for this facility is amazing,” she said.
“We will be preparing all of the meals here and once the cafe is open, our meal of the day menu is exactly what we will serve to the community, if someone wants to come in to a cafe atmosphere and have that or maybe just soup and sandwich. Our coffee bar will have all the cappuccinos and espressos for the public as well.”
The west side of Langley will continue to be serviced by the Langley office and the southeast will be handled from Aldergrove. Over half of their clients, she explained, are in what she classifies as the Aldergrove area.
“We were very fortunate during COVID, thankfully the community was very gracious, again, and Rotary stepped up with people and both Langley City and Township firefighters came on board to deliver. Some of them have stayed on and many of our regular drivers have returned, but the routes are getting so big we will need more people to cover the area,” she acknowledged.
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With the program growing, the opening of the new facility is just in time.
“We are now well set up to accommodate the projected growth. The community has been so great at providing funding to us over the years, and we are building for the long term. This is our opportunity to give back to them,” she said.
Langley Meals on Wheels has been supporting the community since 1979.
The new building’s name was chosen from a community contest, and Woykin said it reflects what they are trying to achieve.
“Aldergrove Community Station House recognizes the Aldergrove community, the building’s heritage as a fire station, and promoting the house concept that as part of the neighbourhood, we want people to feel welcome to come here for food and services.”
Woykin and her crew are looking for volunteers in both Langley and the ‘new’ Aldergrove location.
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“If you have a few hours to spare Monday to Friday, we have some great, fun and rewarding opportunities, kitchen helper, meal packer and sealer, meal delivery driver and Langley office support.”
For more information, people can call 604-533-1679 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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