Open letter sent to David Wilson, N.S. minister of health

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Dear Mr. Wilson,

I received a letter Dec. 17 from you concerning the frozen foods being prepared and served to our veterans at the Northumberland Veterans Wing in Pictou. Your letter indicates that these products you assume are fresh are prepared in bulk, frozen, and then cooked onsite in special ovens that were designed for this produce.

Your letter goes on to say that this frozen produce is purchased at a lower cost, reduces food waste, and provides improved menu choices and meals.

I have recently shared a few of these meals with our vets in Pictou and let me assure you this product is far from being fresh, with very few menu choices.

The product, whether fish, meat, poultry, etc., is tasteless, dry and tough. One meal I shared even had the vegetables hard as if they were still frozen. On those days, much of those meals went back to the kitchen as waste.

Which part of this world do these frozen products come from? Food waste would also be returned to the kitchen from home cooked meals but at least what was eaten would be tasty, fresh and nutritional.

Wouldn’t it seem more practical to buy local produce and supporting our local farmers?

Mr. Wilson, these people are the ones who fought and gave up so much for what we have today. It is irresponsible to even consider to continue providing them with this frozen product and then say that the PCHA is committed to providing quality food services to all their patients, clients and residents. I challenge PCHA and anyone else who supports these meals to sit down with these vets or hospital patients and be served these meals every day for 365 days a year. If this quality food is good enough for our war heroes to consume every day for the rest of their lives, it’s sure as hell good enough for you.

Yes you do have a budget to work with but don’t make cuts at the expense of our veterans. Perhaps rolling back wages in overstaffed administration might be a place to consider.

Now I’m assuming that much will be done by PCHA until the 28-day assessment is concluded Feb. 6 to ensure that these frozen produce will continue. I’m assuming that a far better meal presentation will be provided. I’m assuming that more variety per meal will be available. I’m assuming that there might even be larger portions served just for show but in the end, it will all be the same.

I for one will be anxious to see the final results of this 28-day assessment. I for one will be anxious to see if anyone is listening.

Jim Turple

Councillor Municipality of Pictou County

Organizations: Northumberland Veterans Wing

Geographic location: Pictou County

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  • Charlene MacLean-Richard
    January 09, 2013 - 17:12

    Thank you Mr Turple. My father resided at the Pictou Veterans Unit and I appreciate you standing up for what is morally correct, for showing you care, for understanding the critical role of nutrition for our veterans health and well-being and for speaking loud and clear on their behalf since most are unable to represent themselves. But if they could, they would - because they too were courageous - lest never forget, they fought for our freedom.

  • Judy Hartling
    January 08, 2013 - 08:12

    I second Jim Turple's remarks. Next time Mr. Wilson wants to entertain some colleagues at the taxpayer's expense, join the Vets for lunch! We have a Community College that provides cooking courses - couldn't a collaborative program be put together that would give hands on experience to them and provide good hot meals for our veterans?

  • Colin Elder Grant
    January 05, 2013 - 09:57

    Right on Jim Turple. In these tough economic times we all know that cuts have to be made, and it happens sometimes that these cuts are made where no one will hear or see them, in fact I think that's part of the plan. Until you get a guy like Jim Turple reminding the powers that be, that it's not just about finaincial decisions but about moral priorities as well. This food is a result of centralization. The suits love their centralization. Because of this wonderful 21st century idea, we are losing jobs in post offices, losing jobs in small towns all over NS, feeding our veterans sub-par food, dealing with call centers instead of people. I suppose it all looks good on paper somewhere far removed from the people, but if anyone has the gonads like Mr.Turple to see the actual effect on Nova Scotian lives and towns, they will see it ONLY helps accountants make a nice report to their provincial overlords. Shame on whoever is responsible. These are our veterans, enough said.