THUNDER BAY — It was a day of celebration — but not too closely — at the Dew Drop Inn Thursday as their Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business award was proudly displayed for everyone to see.
The centre was recognized in the not-for-profit category section during an award presentation at Boomer’s Drive-In Theatre, Wednesday.
"Humbled,” said Julio Chiodo, the Dew Drop Inn kitchen manager at the Dew Drop. “Just one word — humbled.”
Chiodo added, “It wasn’t just us. It was the community stepping up and our volunteers and other agencies that we teamed up with. We made a plan and the plan worked.”
Chiodo says navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t as much difficult as it was different.
“We had to think as a team in what we can do in order to make food a non-issue,” he said. “There was a lot of people that just didn’t have the little buffer and they needed us for the interim.”
The centre underwent many changes due to the pandemic and shut down their dining room to patrons in March 2020.
“We started a takeout service from the garage until September when we were able to come back into the building and start servicing a hot meal again,” said Michael Quibell, executive director of the centre.
The COVID-19 pandemic also had a significant impact on patron numbers.
“Last year we had a record year where we did 110,565 meals, which is an increase of 25,000 meals in one year and 40,000 meals in two years,” he said.
This year in the first five months, the centre has produced 8,000 more meals than they’ve done last year.
“We are just getting busier and busier,” said Quebelle. “We always say, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ but here we say, ‘It takes a community to feed our hungry,’ so this is a community effort. From the board, staff, volunteers to the incredible support from the community, these all helped us feed the hungry in Thunder Bay.
Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal