Donegal's community heroes - Chef Aid feeding those in need during Covid-19 crisis

Donegal Town chefs lead the way in getting dinners to elderly

Chef Aid Donegal Town feed elderly and vulnerable during Covid-19 crisis

Chef Aid Donegal Town feed elderly and vulnerable during Covid-19 crisis

A group of Donegal town chefs are working together to get dinners to elderly and vulnerable people in the community during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Quay West Restaurant owner Jo Daly is one of the people behind Chef Aid Donegal Town, along with Tim Twomey, Sinead McTiernan and Adrian McDaid.

Ms Daly said: “Myself and the team were talking two weeks ago about what we could do if something was needed, if things got bad."

The idea for Chef Aid was born, and the team approached the owners of the Manhattan Restaurant.

“The Manhattan has been closed for three months so we know it is totally virus-free,” said Ms Daly. “We are grateful to Tom and Carina Lyons for letting us use it.”

Seed funds of €1,200 were contributed by Quay West and Super Valu to get started.

How Chef Aid works is that people ring in and let the chefs know they need a meal, and they give their Eircode. 

“We ring them before we arrive at the house so they know it is us,” said Ms Daly. “When we arrive we leave the dinner on the doorstep. We will be wearing gloves throughout.

"It is only after we drive off that they open the door and take the dinner inside. That way, everyone is getting a dinner but we are not adding to the spread of the virus.”

With An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar talking in his St Patrick’s Day speech about vulnerable people ‘cocooning’ in order to stay safe, this initiative will help them to do so.

“We want to reassure everyone that there is a plan,” said Ms Daly. “We have your back and we are going to look after you.

“This is our way of helping people to stay safe and to feel safe.”

Ms Daly believes that chefs in communities across Donegal and around the country could follow suit. 

“Who better than chefs to do this?” she said. “We are all used to the constant hand-washing and to being very aware of hygiene. It’s what we do. We are just stepping it up a level.

“We called our initiative Chef Aid Donegal Town to leave it open to chefs in other towns and villages to do the same thing and use the name if they want.”

Ms Daly is all too aware of how many chefs have found themselves suddenly out of work, and she is confident that they will rise to the challenge of helping people.

The decision to close Quay West Restaurant until the Covid-19 crisis passes was a difficult one for Ms Daly.

“You are thinking of your team and their families,” she said. “We knew that once we did it, other people would close too. We didn’t want to be forcing other people but someone had to be the first.

“And we had to send out the message that we all need to look after each other. It was very emotional but I knew in my heart and soul it was the right thing to do. We need to lock down, mind ourselves, mind the elderly and the vulnerable.”

Anyone who needs to order a meal can contact Ms Daly and the team on 086 3822605. They should have their Eircode to hand.  

If anyone wishes to support the campaign, they can donate on the ChefAid Donegal Town gofundme page

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