BELLINGHAM, Wash., —During COVID, Opportunity Council cannot serve meals to the usual large gatherings of guests at the Maple Alley Inn hot meals program. Meal programs like this were prohibited from opening during Phase 1, and Phase 2  guidelines are so restrictive it would not be safe or feasible to open.

Instead, the Maple Alley Inn staff  modified services so they can deliver meals to people who are in COVID quarantine or in supportive housing programs.

“We’re developing new systems to prepare and package main course meals,” said Anne Poulson, Maple Alley Inn coordinator, who explained how they are getting food out to guests who can’t come to them.

Using the food they had in storage, plus fresh produce from the garden, Anne and Jess Meyer, Maple Alley Inn Assistant, started planning meals and researching packaging options in March. Their goal is to deliver meals three times a week.  This requires making and packaging over 200 individual meals a week.

“It’s a lot of meals, and it’s a lot of fun,” said Poulson.  “With a race to the finish at the end of every week.”

Meals are prepped and packaged without the usual help of the loyal Maple Alley Inn volunteers. Due to social distancing requirements, space in the kitchen is restricted to just Anne and Jessica.

“We’ve gotten faster at chopping vegetables,” Poulson said.

Keeping in the Maple Alley Inn tradition of providing nutritious and delicious food, the meals would delight any foodie.  Anne and Jess made use of a donation of beef and dried cherries by using  a recipe from Cooks Illustrated to make a Sour Cherry and Beef Stew that included ten pounds of caramelized onions. Another meal, pot roast, was prepared with donated pork and 20 pounds of carrots.

“It’s satisfying to be able to do what we love to do, which is feeding people healthy, nutritious food,” Poulson said.