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Charlottetown woman helps Island seniors, one meal at a time

Janet Ford, owner of Comfort Food by Janet, takes a roast out of the oven at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown earlier this month. Ford prepares food for pick up or delivery on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays each week.
Janet Ford, owner of Comfort Food by Janet, takes a roast out of the oven at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown earlier this month. Ford prepares food for pick up or delivery on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays each week. - Katie Smith
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

When an Island woman was wondering what to do after her employment came to an end, she decided to step back, take her own advice and begin a new career.

Janet Ford of Parkdale lived many places over a 25-year period, the most recent place being Halifax where she managed staffing firms.

She had been looking to return to the Island, so when her position came to an end, she took it as a sign and made the move back.

Her mother had died around that time after living with dementia, and it was then Ford realized she wanted to do something to help P.E.I. seniors.

Faced with what to do next, she put the advice she’d given in her career to good use.

A former employment counsellor, Ford used to ask her clients what they were passionate about.

“I’d ask them, ‘What gets you up in the morning? What do you enjoy? Is there a way that you can turn that into a career somehow?’ So, I just took my own advice, really.”

It turns out, she loved to cook and entertain.

With that in mind and coupled with her desire to help seniors, Ford began a food service business.

Comfort Food by Janet, now in its seventh year, provides nutritious meals for seniors, singles, professionals and anyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of a home-cooked meal without the stress, hassle or preparation.

“I try to keep my prices reasonable, so I can really look after seniors. That’s why I started this,” she said. “There’s not enough help for seniors out there.”
-Janet Ford

Over the years, Ford said she’s seen her business grow at a steady increase of about 20 per cent per year, and now prepares more than 200 meals each week.

She said it’s important to offer her clients affordable meals.

“I try to keep my prices reasonable, so I can really look after seniors. That’s why I started this,” she said. “There’s not enough help for seniors out there.”

A lot of her clients use her service to provide meals for their parents, including one of her regulars, Sandra Bowes.

Bowes said Ford’s business has become an important resource for her family over the past several years, especially for her father who is a disabled retiree from the Canadian Armed Forces.

Wheelchair-bound, her father’s disability prevents him from preparing his own meals and from accessing many restaurants.

She said her family was thrilled when they discovered Ford’s business, which allows her father to select meals from the pre-planned menu, which changes from week to week.

“We read out the items from her email and he tells us ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Then he travels in the car with my sister or I to pick them up,” Bowes said.

“Not only does he love the food Janet prepares, but it’s the only prepared vegetables I can get this man to eat. My dad looks forward to (the meals) and how flavourful she makes them. He feels like she is his personal chef in a way.”

Ford, who prepares all her meals at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown, said she believes in supporting local, and sources a lot of her products from Island businesses, including beef and pork from Shaw’s Meat Market in Cardigan, fish from MR Seafood, free-range chickens from her friend’s farm in Caledonia and vegetables from Mt. Edward Grocery.

She does her shopping on Mondays, so anyone looking to purchase meals is encouraged to get in contact with her over the weekends.

Along with her meals-to-go, Ford also provides catering for small events.

For more information, visit the Comfort Food to Go by Janet Facebook page or email her at janet@comfortfoodbyjanet.com.

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