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Serving up Independence to help keep seniors at home

'There’s nothing like homemade food and supporting local. If we wouldn’t eat it, we’re not going to sell it'

Natalie Mulvany beams with pride when she talks about her multi-faceted business she has named Independence.

Creating a business geared towards helping seniors stay at home was a longtime dream that came to fruition roughly six years ago.

“My main goal is helping seniors stay in their home as long as possible, by providing services they need, because there’s no place like home,” explained Mulvany.

“A lot of my clients are in their 80s and 90s and still living at home, and it is surprising how well they’re doing at home.”

In addition to the cleaning, and light grocery shopping services, food is a big part of her business.

Located in Callander, at 80 Lansdowne Street East, Independence offers a menu catering to both fresh and frozen meals, covering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with baked goods and so much more.   

The food prepared by Mulvany and staff is takeout only.

“You can come in and order and walk out with hot or cold meals,” Mulvany stated.

“We have our frozen foods, so that gives people choices, and if they want to have a fresh salad to go with their frozen meal, we can do that too. We have customers who when they pick up their lunch, will ask what we’re cooking and then come back later and get that.”

The soup is made fresh daily.

The robust Italian soup is made with fresh vegetables, crumbled sausage, pasta, and just the right balance of spices to pull it all together. The perfect go-to on a winter’s day.  

The menu includes sandwiches and wraps. A customer favourite is the toasted meatloaf sandwich complete with cheddar cheese and mayonnaise, true comfort food.

“We make our soups from scratch, our salads fresh to order, and our sandwiches are fresh. If we know ahead of time, we can make gluten-free. I have a client, who’s not a senior, but she’s busy and doesn’t have time to cook, so she pre-ordered gluten-free, but I can’t provide celiac. I have provided gluten-free if people pre-order to accommodate them,” Mulvany stated.  

The business owner has developed a special rapport with many of her long-time customers.  

“I had a client, who unfortunately has passed away, but she couldn’t swallow anymore and she was eating our soups, but we really had to make sure they were pureed. And we have Irish stew that we really liquified and catered to her and one of the things she said to us before she passed away was if it wasn’t for our food, she would have probably died sooner because she wasn’t really eating. She was just eating baby food out of a jar. We do our best to cater to those with special dietary needs.”     

Staff are kept busy filling orders.

“Our freezers are quite full here in Callander. Sometimes we’ll get people asking for 15 or 30 meals to get them through the month. Knowing ahead of time is good to make sure we have the foods available,” Mulvany added.

The frozen entrees are available in lunch or dinner sizes. The hardest choice is picking which meal to enjoy.  

“Our lasagna and spinach lasagna, (layers of noodles topped with marinara sauce, spinach, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella), our chicken parmesan (breaded chicken breast served with spaghetti and topped with marinara sauce),  our roasted chicken dinner, (chicken served with creamy mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and stuffing), our hamburger steak (beef patty topped with gravy, sauteed mushrooms and onions served with mashed potatoes and vegetables), our roast beef dinner (slowly roasted beef served with gravy, mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables) all sell very well.”

The selection doesn’t end there. A complete menu list is available at the front cash.

Independence proudly serves North Bay, Callander, and the surrounding area, with the option of having the food delivered.  

Still relatively young, the business continues to flourish year after year.

“So obviously the name Independence came from wanting to try and help people remain independent, everybody wants to stay at home."

The elderly aren’t the only ones to enjoy the vast selection of foods.

“I started with wanting to help seniors and it is amazing how many people who aren’t seniors, need our help. They may be going for surgery, or just had a baby or going through changes and don’t have time to cook for themselves,” Mulvany observed.

When the weather is good, people stop in and pick up food to take to the waterfront to sit and enjoy, and in the winter, people often stop by on their way to go ice fishing.

“We’ve had food go all the way to Muskoka. We had somebody going to a remote area by boat and they asked us to pack up charcuterie-type foods, or finger foods so that they could pack them in their cooler. So, we can definitely accommodate many requests.”

A couple of general stores in the area are also carrying some of their food items.

“We service Restoule. We bring food out to Gerry’s General Store, and now the South Shore General Store has reached out and asked us to provide meals out there,” Mulvany noted.

“There’s nothing like homemade food and supporting local and knowing that the food you’re sending to their loved ones, they’re going to enjoy it. If we don’t eat it, we’re not going to sell it. For us, it is the joy of knowing people are enjoying their food and staying in their home for as long as possible.”

Independence is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and closed Sundays.

Call 705-845-5079 or email inquiries here.

Independence will be busy serving up pancakes at the Family Fun Day in Callander at the community centre on Monday, February 19 starting at 8 a.m.