Meals on Wheels finds kitchen to keep preparing meals in Port Alberni

Crisis occurred when COVID-19 restrictions forced a sudden closure of restaurant kitchen

Volunteers with Meals on Wheels package up extra meals for their clients at Chances Rim Rock Casino. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Meals on Wheels have found a commercial kitchen in Port Alberni to continue preparing meals for clients.

Kitchen staff at The Cypress restaurant at Chances Rimrock gaming centre have been preparing Meals on Wheels meals for the past five years, but were suddenly shut down on Monday after a BC Lottery Corporation directive closed all casinos and gaming centres.

Service will be seamless this month, said Vishal Dewli, food and beverage general manager at Chances Rimrock. “We have a couple of commercial kitchens in place where we can pull this off.”

READ: Meals on Wheels in Port Alberni loses kitchen under BCLC’s gaming centre closure

“They’re going to be using the kitchen at the Alberni Athletic Hall,” said Dawna Sawyer, spokesperson for Meals on Wheels.

“We’ll be going down to three days a week rather than the five we normally do.”

Dewli said he is still waiting to hear back from the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) about an exemption to keep The Cypress kitchen open. “We have cooks in place,” he said.

“It’s a process.”

If he is granted an exemption then Dewli said he would like to be able to offer meals to go for seniors and other people who need the takeout service as closures to restaurants, bars, pubs and other establishments grow under a provincial health emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We have a setup there” to offer takeout meals, he said. “We’re looking at opening for lunch and dinner for takeout for seniors. It’s all subject to BCLC.”

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