KELOWNA - While out for dinner in Cape Town, South Africa, Jennifer Schell noticed a small sign on her table encouraging people to donate money towards helping street children.
At the end of the meal, patrons were asked if they would like a small monetary amount added to their bill, which would go directly to benefit organizations, through an initiative called Street Smart.
Now, back home, Schell is bringing Street Smart to the Okanagan to fight hunger and homelessness.
“I feel like bigger cities, like Vancouver, have such a huge problem, but here we are in Kelowna and the problem is small in comparison - it’s fixable and I’m not sure why nothing has been done about it,” Schell said.
As the founding coordinator for the Okanagan Soup Sisters chapter, Schell is no stranger to the homeless situation in Kelowna.
“I hope to shine a big light on what is happening, and raise awareness on what’s going on in our community.”
Street Smart works with restaurants to raise money for the homeless. This is done by giving the patron a choice of adding $1, or more, to their bill at the end of the meal. One hundred per cent of the funds raised go to a local charity.
Internationally, Street Smart partners with local food banks to help the homeless community, however the Okanagan organization is unique in the way it’s partnering with a local charity.
According to Schell, Street Smart Okanagan will be partnering with three different local charities. However the main charity at the moment is Start Fresh.
The Start Fresh project was founded by Michael Buffett. The project teaches culinary skills and farming to the homeless, as well as others.
“Smaller charities tend to be overlooked,” Schell says. “I investigated which charity I thought would have the most immediate impact, keeping the focus on the homeless and the hungry.”
Schell says she hopes to have Street Smart cards placed on restaurant tables in by the end of June, 2017.
“Restaurants downtown are really aware of the homeless situation,” Schell says. “The Okanagan Chefs Association is so amazing and is community focused, I think a lot of people in the industry are going to be excited about this.”
So far, Ricardo’s Mediterranean Kitchen, as well as executive chef Mark Filatow of Waterfront Wines have expressed their desire to participate.
Schell is the author of international award winning cookbook series, The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker, as well as the editor of B.C. Food & Wine Trails Magazine.
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