VANCOUVER -- Two Vancouver golf courses are providing thousands of meals over Easter weekend to residents of city-run housing projects to help the needy follow public health advice and stay inside.

The clubhouse at the Langara Golf Course was closed after public health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its workers may have been laid off like over a thousand other city workers – but managers saw an opportunity.

“It’s a huge endeavour. We’ve never done anything like this,” said chef Mark Halyk.

Many regular meal providers in the Downtown Eastside had also shuttered – meaning some poor residents would be more likely to venture out for food. Recommendations from the province have been to stay inside to lessen the likelihood of the disease spread.

Walking amid a crowd of people along Hastings Street, resident Murray White told CTV News he’d been going hungry.

“A lot of the food places are no longer delivering food. I’m missing breakfast every day because of it,” he said.

Susie Saunders, the city’s director of non-market housing, said the city could solve two problems at once.

“We wanted to do everything to keep tenants safe. One of the safest things is to keep them indoors,” she said.

“We noticed the impact of the loss of meals. A group of staff got together to see how we could ensure they had meals. We’ve never done this before,” she said.

The city runs 11 non-market housing buildings, with around 1000 tenants.

Halyk said the Easter weekend hampers would include soups, chili and pasta, all made in-house. And he expected the service to continue for eight weeks.

The Fraserview Golf Course clubhouse is also contributing to the effort. Some food will also go to the Carnegie Community Centre and the Gathering Place.

City staff said that would add up to almost 15,000 total meals per week.

“The kitchen staff have been extremely busy,” Halyk said.

“It was exciting for us because we were looking for ways to help out and we are all contributing to this great project,” he said.