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LCETB steps up to feed healthcare workers

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STAFF and volunteer trainees at Limerick’s Hospitality Education and Training Centre are stepping up to ‘Feed the Frontline’  in the weeks ahead, as part of the centre’s efforts to support healthcare workers in the fight against Coronavirus.

The centre, managed by Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, launched a new service on Thursday, which will see the production of fresh meals 7 days a week from its production kitchen for healthcare staff, including those on the frontline.

These meals will be delivered daily by the centre to multiple HSE locations across the Mid West. The initiative is part of the ETB’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency as it continues to provide services in the region.

Manager, Bernadette Enright, is co-ordinating the centre’s response operation. She says: “Right from when this crisis began, staff members here were so eager to be able to provide their services to the community. All of them come from hospitality industry SMEs, so they have the specific skills for catering services within healthcare settings like hospitals, residential care and nursing homes.”

She continued: “Operationally we are running a number of shifts from 7am to close at night, 7 days a week, including weekends and bank holidays, because healthcare workers need to be fed and we see this continuing for several weeks to come.

“There are 3 teams involved over a 9-day cycle, taking different roster times over 3 days, with a limit of 3 people on a shift to ensure distancing protocols are maintained. So over the 3 days it’s quite intense work with long hours for the those involved.”

The operation has also seen significant support from businesses in the region and beyond. Bernadette says: “The support we have gotten has been fantastic.

“Irema Ireland in Kilmallock supplied the face masks for all our food production and delivery staff. Delivery containers were supplied by Noel O’Connor of Pat O’Connor Butchers, along with plastic crates from Richardson’s Foods and wooden trays from Pat The Baker.

“Paul Cross Sharpening Services, based in Rathangan, County Kildare, provided uniforms and protective clothing for deliveries. And, Pallas Foods even provided us with Easter eggs for all the food deliveries going out over the Easter weekend!”

Responding to the launch of the new initiative, Bedelia Collins, COVID-19 Co-ordinator of Resources and Service Offers, HSE Mid West Community Healthcare, says the service is very welcome: “Bernadette and her team have been so professional and so easy to work with, which is just what’s needed at the moment.

“The flexibility that’s been offered with the service is great, especially with the transporting of meals to the different locations in the region. Staff are really touched and very grateful. They are delighted with the quality of food. We started with almost 100 meals on Thursday and expect this to increase significantly in the coming days.”

Elaine has been a member of staff with The Clare Echo since its foundation in October 2017. The paper's first Chief Reporter, the Kilrush woman is now working as a sub-editor in our busy newsroom. In 2015, she graduated from the University of Limerick with a Masters in Journalism. Elaine briefly worked with the RTE Investigations Unit on the Standards in Public Office investigation before returning to Clare to continue her career as a reporter with the Clare People where she spent nine months as the West Clare correspondent and also covered the 2016 General Election and 2016 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

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