Meals served to residents of Willingdon Creek Village and Evergreen Care Unit improved slightly last year with an increase in public scrutiny, but have since fallen back to roughly the same level, according to community advocates.
Powell River Voices director Murray Dobbin said residents have told him that food quality has slipped again this summer. He said the public interest group is working to form a coalition of community stakeholders to press the issue further with the new provincial government this fall.
More than a year ago, Evergreen Care Unit residents’ council member Elaine Steiger raised the issue of food shortages and that the majority of food being served was packaged rather than fresh. Since then the community has rallied around the issue.
“When we squawked there was a brief improvement,” said Steiger, “but if no one says anything it goes back to the same old.”
Steiger said the next residents’ council meeting is in early September; she expects to raise the issue again.
Steiger said Sodexo Canada, which provides food services at Powell River General Hospital, Willingdon Creek Village and Evergreen Care Unit, is a private for-profit corporation and the bottom line is that the company is trying to make money by servicing the contract for Vancouver Coastal Health.
“Really, it should be a not-for-profit group running it,” said Steiger. “This is the residents' home. They shouldn't be getting this kind of food."
Meanwhile, Sodexo’s patient food services at Powell River General Hospital is currently accepting proposals from local suppliers until the end of September.
Sodexo spokesperson Anna-Karina Tabunar said in a statement that local procurement is part of Sodexo’s global strategy to diversify its supply chain and address community feedback.
“In Powell River, Sodexo listened to the community, which told us that local sourcing is important,” said Tabunar. “Listening to our clients and customers helps us continuously improve our service delivery.”
Tabunar said the company has yet to determine if it will need to request an increase in its service contract with Vancouver Coastal Health to improve food quality.