Selkirk restaurant serves close to 1,000 meals to Manitobans in need during COVID-19 pandemic

This story is part of a series by CBC Manitoba about acts of kindness in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was possible in part thanks to Manitobans who filled out CBC’s survey about acts of kindness they have initiated or experienced. 

Veena Nandan and her spouse, Nandan Satheesh, saw people starving in their native country of India. 

When the pandemic struck this spring, shutting down businesses and putting hundreds of people out of work, they didn’t want to see people go hungry in their new home of Manitoba.

So the owners of Vinnies South Indian in Selkirk put a post on their Facebook page, telling people know that if they needed food, they could just give them a call. 

Since March, they’ve provided more than 950 meals for people in need in Selkirk, Winnipeg, and other surrounding communities. 

Veena Nandan said they felt it was the least they could do. 

“We saw many people having hardship, whether it was they lost their job or their kids weren’t going to school so they weren’t getting their meals from there,” she said. 

“Coming from a country where we have seen people starving due to hunger, that’s the last thing we wanted to see.”

The couple, who moved to Canada in 2016, and their staff have been using supplies from their restaurant to make the meals. With business down because of the pandemic, Veena said they didn’t want the food they have to buy anyway go to waste. 

Veena Nandan and Nandan Satheesh moved to Canada from India in 2016. They opened their first restaurant in Winnipeg in 2017, then opened another in Selkirk the following year. (Submitted by Veena Nandan)

“We thought this is the time that we could give back to the community when they need us,” she said. 

“Of course it’s a hard time, but the community support has always been helpful to us, so we are always thankful for that.”

The offer stands throughout the holiday season, Veena Nandan said.

“Since the holiday season is coming, we still would like to say to the people, don’t go hungry,” she said. 

“If you are hungry this holiday season, let us know a day before and we can do our best to have the food ready for you.”

Veena Nandan says she felt providing free meals was the least she and Nandan Satheesh could do as people struggle during the pandemic. (Submitted by Veena Nandan)

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