Out grocery shopping recently I happened upon a store called Halenda’s The Meat People, so I popped in. I immediately felt I was in one of those charming European-style supermarkets – large and airy and full of delicious surprises: A huge deli counter on one side just brimming with a large variety of cold cuts, smoked meats, take out, cheese and more. A grocery section was in the middle and, on the other side was substantial dairy section – found eggs from the Mennonite community for only $3.99 a dozen – and an ample frozen food section further back with packages of fan faves like different variations of pierogi. And then – the meat section. This was serious meat territory – award-winning foods.

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Curious about the company background, I learned that Halenda’s The Meat People is a Canadian success story, a family-run business started 40 years ago by the late Michael Halenda, who actually started the food company shortly after retirement. Son Michael – who now heads up the company – says his dad was bored with his retirement, so he started his own business, which grew and flourished throughout the years with more locations and dozens of awards of excellence.

Halenda’s head office is in Oshawa along with two other locations, as well as locations in Whitby, Bowmanville, St. Jacobs Market, and Mississauga (where I had visited) ,to name a few, along with several plants, including a brand-new state-of-the-art plant being prepared out near Pearson airport. Halenda products are also available in dozens of stores across the GTA and southern Ontario.

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All this because a kind man with vision wasn’t ready to retire.

“My dad was a great man whose word was his honour,” said his son Richard recently. “He was a great man and a role model who grew up in the Ukraine in a tradition of both living off the land, and understanding the importance and value of the family and community. We all continue to live these core values.”

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Added sister Carole-Ann, who also works at the family company, which now employs more than 100 people: “He instilled a sense of pride and workmanship – and it was always about giving back to the community.”

The company gives generously to charitable causes – one of the most successful being the sale of the company’s Halenda’s Pepperoni Stix, where more than $2 million has been raised for charitable causes since the product started being created.

All this because I had a hankering for Kobassa! I visited the location at 2110 Dundas St. E. in Mississauga. For a location nearest you, check out Halendas.com.

Make it your goal to ‘meat’ Halenda’s

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