Meals to celebrate medical residents also support local economy

·3 min read

When Doctors Nova Scotia realized how many medical residents wouldn't make it home for the holidays, it knew it had to do something special.

Kevin Chapman, the organization's director of finance and partnerships, got on the line with some community recruiters and pitched an idea — virtual cooking classes using products from the local area.

He wasn't sure if they could pull it off before the holidays.

"The community response has been nothing short of overwhelming and it's exceeded everything I thought possible."

First feasts

Just a few weeks later, dozens of residents and their preceptors in Pictou, Yarmouth and Lunenburg counties held the first feasts with meal kits made locally.

Dozens more physicians will enjoy their food baskets Saturday night.

Among the first to latch on to the idea was Nicole LeBlanc, the project navigator for Healthy Pictou County.

She was given a budget of about $4,000 from Doctors Nova Scotia. She called around to local businesses she knew could use a boost because of the pandemic.

LeBlanc worked with Chefs From Away Catering, and found local mussels, salmon and haddock to go into the kits.

"The nice thing about that, it was for the caterers, it was also for people who provided the local fish, the ingredients, the other gifts that went with it. It was kind of an inspiring event," she said.

Submitted by Dr. Murray McCrossin
Submitted by Dr. Murray McCrossin

Last weekend, about 40 families joined the Zoom gathering, and they cooked the elaborate meal together under the guidance of a chef.

"It was really nice to have the joy spread among other people as well," said LeBlanc.

Tina Hennigar of Now Lunenburg County was in charge of co-ordinating the cooking class in her area. She decided she didn't just want to hand out food to the doctors.

She bought wreaths from DeLong Farm in New Germany. She called the local school to see if the children could make cards.

"I think it was really cute because the students all knew where the cards were going, that they were going to our local physicians as a thank you for being on the front lines," she said.

Submitted by Nicole LeBlanc
Submitted by Nicole LeBlanc

LeBlanc and Hennigar say they got a huge response from the doctors, who were able to unwind after a stressful year.

"I was flooded with comments afterwards from students, from the [Dalhousie] medical school and the medical community saying how wonderful it was," said Hennigar.

Show of appreciation

She hopes the night will show the doctors that they're appreciated, and it will help convince them to remain in the community.

Meanwhile, Chapman said the next ones will be even more elaborate after the success of the first ones.

Some communities are sending invitations to family members who live far away, so they can virtually meet the colleagues of the residents.

Another area is having a musical guest perform.

Chapman said Doctors Nova Scotia is thrilled to be able to end this tough year on a high note for those working on the front lines.

"It's been a real pleasure just to have the community so supportive."