Little Flower keeps its meals on wheels

As society slowly reopens, Meath Street’s famous ‘penny dinners’ are not yet available to eat in the dining rooms.

Before Covid-19, Little Flower Penny Dinners would always draw a steady stream of local people and would be crowded with people who had meals in the Meath Street dining rooms.

For 20 months now, however, there is no chatter or laughter to be heard. Instead, the main dining room and the front dining room both have been filled with prepared lunch hampers.

The charity, located opposite St Catherine’s Church on Meath Street in Dublin 8, is open from 12 noon to 1pm Monday to Friday in order to serve takeaway lunch hampers. In addition, two vehicles continue to deliver meals on wheels every day.  

 “People really want to come and sit down for hot dinners and have a cup of tea with the locals,” says Ray Juthan, head chef and operations manager. “But when we open the dining rooms again, we are worried about a problem we might have. 

“A lot of people who come up here do not have smartphones to show the Covid certification, or might lose their certification. It could happen. It would be a very awkward situation to restrict them to come in because of the certification.”

Little Flower Penny Dinners has been supporting those in need since 1912. It provides up to 72,000 meals annually in the Liberties and the surrounding areas. 

The charitable organisation serves not only meals but also provides various activities in the Little Flower Centre. 

Meals on wheels by ‘Little Flower Penny Dinners’. Photo by Injae Kang

Since the onset of Covid-19, there are significant differences in their service to the people in The Liberties. 

Juthan, who has been serving for six years, says: “The pandemic made us focus on take-away services at the door since the building is closed.  

“We usually serve meals to more than 120 people daily. We also have 80 clients for meals on wheels everyday.”

Ray Juthan, head chef and operations manager. Photo by Injae Kang 

“We usually serve meals to more than 120 people daily. We also have 80 clients for meals on wheels everyday. Mostly our customers are in the Liberties, and they usually come up to the door to collect lunch hampers on foot.”

Juthan speaks candidly of difficulties during the pandemic: “We can see the impacts of Covid-19. This pandemic has messed things up so much. We have to restrict ourselves from being in contact with people. We used to have regular face-to-face contact, but now we have to follow all of the rules and guidelines.  

“What’s really sad is that we lost contact socially with many people. For example, people informed us that John, who used to come up here for meals at the table, has now passed away.”

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