Smaller gatherings this Thanksgiving means businesses and charities are pivoting
Those cooking Thanksgiving meals this weekend are planning for small gatherings due to COVID-19 social distancing, and it means that local businesses and charities are having to adapt.
The turkey, mashed potatoes and all the fixings will be available, but Railtown Catering company knows this long weekend will be unlike any other Thanksgivings. For the past 10 years, the company has been offering home-delivered feasts big enough for 10 people, but this year, for the first time, a smaller package for groups of five is also on the menu.
“With social distancing and getting friends together (it) is a lot more difficult than normal, we're finding a lot of people are looking for that smaller package when their families can’t make it into town,” owner Dan Olson said.
Last year, the company sold 199 turkey dinners. And although this year, they've sold 225 large meals, they've also sold 162 of the small dinners.
Olson said he's feeling grateful for the dinner orders that they've received for Thanksgiving.
“Catering basically got decimated over the course of the summer, and it doesn't show really any real signs of recovering especially since the corporate world hasn't gone back to the office yet.”
Olson said the business is now focused on feeding families and they expect similar packages will be available for Christmas.
For weeks, Dr. Bonnie Henry has been stressing the need to have virtual or smaller gatherings instead of large family meals.
“I encourage everybody to make our celebrations large in thanks, large in gratitude, but small in size,” she told reporters Monday.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justine Trudeau said the choices Canadians make this weekend will have a direct impact in the number of new cases in the coming two weeks.
“(The) behaviour people take on this weekend will be things we look back at two weeks from now, to see whether we started to shift the direction of this second wave or not,” Trudeau said.
Responding to the calls of health officials, local charities are also adapting. A large turkey sit-down meal is normally a highlight for the Union Gospel Mission. But, this year, 1,600 turkey meals will be served over the course of four days at several UGM locations.
“We usually have about 150 volunteers and dozens of staff to help orchestrate a major meal like this, and this year we've got a very small but mighty skeleton crew making it happen,” Nicole Mucci said.
In addition to the takeout meals, the UGM will distribute socks for the coming colder weather.
“Any opportunity to infuse hope, to spread some gratitude to remind people that they matter and they're cared for, is what we want to do,” she said.
Long weekend travel is also unpredictable.
The province's ferry services might also be a little different this year. BC Ferries said typically, many post-secondary students would be travelling on the Friday before the long weekend but this year looks different.
“(The) majority of them are doing online classes. We’re just not sure what we will see in terms of traffic, but we've gone ahead and (gotten) prepared for a popular travel weekend to ensure everyone can travel safely with us,” spokesperson Tessa Humphries said.
She said many of the popular sailings are already full from reservations but there are still spots on the later evening and early morning ones.