Fuelling champions: What does it take to feed Canada Games athletes?
Athletes on Prince Edward Island for the 2023 Canada Winter Games aren't just hungry for gold.
Nine vendors across the province are fuelling the competition by providing meals to the thousands of athletes competing in the Games — and they have quite the appetite.
"Just to give you an example of some of the volumes we're going through — 24,000 cracked local eggs alone, 6,000 pounds of P.E.I. potatoes, over 1,000 pounds of local mussels being served for meals," said Derrick Hines, general manager of Chartwells.
Students staying at the athletes' village at UPEI are being fed at the Wanda Wyatt Dining Hall.
"Every day we are feeding over 1,800 meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner," he said.
"The other night we had roast beef on for supper, over 500 pounds that was cooked overnight."
Chartwells isn't just feeding Canada Games athletes. Some UPEI students are also taking advantage of the menu, Hines said.
"The students are actually getting the same food as the athletes are."
Chartwells is offering a variety of meals to athletes — omelettes, ham, bacon, beef and chicken souvlaki to name a few, Hines said.
Additional staff members were brought in to produce the amount of food needed at the UPEI dining fall. There's a total of about 120 staff members on-site, he said.
"We brought in, basically, staff from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to make this happen. We have chefs from, oh my gosh, Cape Breton and Halifax and Saint John."
It took two years of planning for Chartwells to be able to pull this off, converting the dining hall from being able to accommodate a couple hundred people a day to more than 1,000.
It totals about 73,000 meals, said Sarah Essery, food service co-ordinator for the Games.
"It's a lot of planning. I was hired 14 months out," she said. "We developed three to four day rotational menus so they are really not eating the same thing twice for the most part."
On top of hot food there are snacks readily available such as fruits, protein bars and sports drinks, Essery said.
Gluten-free and vegan options
Another focus was to make sure there are options available for people who have food allergies or are vegan, she said.
"In each athlete registration they need to identify their dietary needs," Essery said. "In the menu planning, we created a standard vegan option that would cater to all dietary needs."
Athletes have been pleased with the food options offered, Essery said.
"I think it comes down to the East Coast hospitality and everyone is so proud to be putting the food out and fuelling the athletes. It's really paid off and the feedback has been amazing," she said.
Much of the food being served is locally-sourced. Organizers worked with groups such as the P.E.I. Potato Board, Egg Farmers of P.E.I. and Amalgamated Dairies Limited (ADL).