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Sherry Fownes delivers five meals to Beaver Bank on her weekly trek as a volunteer for the VON Halifax. (Sheryl Dubois)
Sherry Fownes delivers five meals to Beaver Bank on her weekly trek as a volunteer for the VON Halifax. (Sheryl Dubois)

Frozen Favourites is a line of meals designed for people in need of nutrition.

“They are seniors with health problems, people with limited vision or people recovering from surgery,” said Connie VanBerkel, the manager of community support services for the VON (Victorian Order of Nurses) Halifax.

“Often, sons and daughters order for moms and dads to make it easier for them to live,” noted VanBerkel. “It gives peace of mind to caregivers.”

Frozen Favourites are hearty, frozen meals ready for pickup or delivery in HRM. More than 20 dishes are on the menu, but VanBerkel said the most popular ones right now are sweet and sour chicken, pork ribs and liver and onions. Most meals come with vegetables, a starch and a protein. There are both meatless and low-sodium meals and the VON provides complete nutritional breakdowns.

As with many not-for-profits dependent on donors and volunteers, VON volunteers literally deliver the program, each signing up for a couple of hours per week. Volunteers work alone or with a partner. The car and gas are provided.

Sherry Fownes is one such volunteer who agreed to chat about her work with the VON Halifax. After retiring as a registered nurse, Fownes said she wanted to volunteer.

“As an RN, I always admired the VON and thought it would be a good fit,” said Fownes. She joined and served five years in the transportation program, driving people to appointments, for example. After a bit of time off, she heard the VON Halifax was looking for drivers for Frozen Favourites. That was a year and a half ago.

“It was once a week regularly, so a better fit for me,” said Fownes.

Fownes delivers to populations that get little attention.

“Men suddenly on their own and don’t know how to cook for themselves, people recovering from surgery and some seniors that prefer not to cook,” explained Fownes, are the people she sees on her route. However, she finds overall it is mobility restrictions that are one of the “big reasons” clients choose to order the meals.

“So many elderly people rely on toast and tea; it’s not a balanced diet. They could be more active if they could eat properly,” said Fownes. “If you don’t eat right, you don’t feel right.”

“People rave about the meals,” said Fownes. She may deliver enough meals for a week or even a month. The delivery charge is $5. For five meals delivered, it costs $40.

But it’s not just about the meals.

“People are lonely. A lot have no family close by and don’t have support. If you spend just five minutes, it gives them some outside contact,” said Fownes. People are lonely for various reasons, she added. “They are in wheelchairs and can’t get out or don’t drive any longer and taxis are too expensive.”

Fownes continues to volunteer with the VON Halifax because, she said, “I like being busy and I enjoy it. And I’ve met so many interesting people.”

“I think the VON is the cat’s whiskers,” said Fownes. “I would encourage anybody to get involved with seniors work and, more specifically, the VON.”

To volunteer or for more information about Frozen Favourites, email Kim.Henry@von.ca or call 902-453-5800 or 1-866-540-2356.

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