Not a soup kitchen: Kamloops food centre aims higher - InfoNews

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Not a soup kitchen: Kamloops food centre aims higher

Gladys Klepachek is one of the volunteers at the Mount Paul Community Food Centre.
June 12, 2019 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS -  A community food centre is one week into operations and is already connecting many members of the Kamloops community.

The Mount Paul Community Food Centre had its grand opening last Tuesday, and is one of two of such centres in B.C. to celebrate being open.

Shannon Gourlay, food access coordinator at the centre, highlights how the centre is unique in its approach.

“Kamloops and Nelson are the first two (in B.C.). There’s Calgary, Winnipeg, New Brunswick and a bunch in Ontario. It’s a whole political movement,” says Gourlay. “It’s ensuring every Canadian not just has food on the table, but has the right of making it an absolute necessity and the right that every single person in Canada has access to fresh, whole, good food.”

The new centre is a branch of Community Food Centres Canada, a nation-wide initiative that hopes to bring food security onto the menu for all Canadians.

The centre focuses on teaching people skills associated with growing, preparing, cooking and storing your food. The centre has a flourishing garden filled with kale, cucumbers, squash, garlic, herbs, strawberries, raspberries and much more. They also have some young chickens who will soon produce eggs for the volunteers to cook with.

The garden was planted ahead of the grand opening, and is now flourishing and ready to feed visitors.
The garden was planted ahead of the grand opening, and is now flourishing and ready to feed visitors.

The food centre actually began operations in Kamloops two years ago but didn’t have their own place to call home. They had community gardens spotted around the town, and continue to use those. The current location used to be owned by the Mount Paul United Church, which allowed the organization to operate out of the church kitchen.

“It’s originated out of Ontario, where they were transforming food banks into more of a educational centre through growing, cooking, and eating together. So, it’s very different from a soup kitchen,” Gourlay says.

Gourlay says they want to achieve more than traditional soup kitchens can offer. 

“There’s no dignity in standing in a line, no dignity in eating by yourself, no dignity in asking for handouts of people’s leftovers,” Gourlay says.

She says one of the biggest problems facing societies today is isolation. With the food centre, people are welcome to come in, help make a meal for others, sit down to eat with a table of people, and converse with people they might not have met otherwise.

The food centre will aim to use as much food as possible from the garden and donations. The food, if not used within a day, will be donated to the food bank or find another use.

Ann Eggleton, a volunter at the Mount Paul Commnity Food Centre, saves some leftover peanut vegetable soup.
Ann Eggleton, a volunter at the Mount Paul Commnity Food Centre, saves some leftover peanut vegetable soup.

Manager Dawn Christie says it's important to keep food waste to a minimum. As part of one of their programs, harvest to home, they put that focus first.

“Often when we get food donations from the grocery stores, the donations are close to being spoiled or they’re put into one container with a different variety of food. With harvest to home, we remove all the donations from a donation bin and make sure we’re salvaging and recovering any food that is edible. If there is food that is not edible, we give it to local farmers for their chickens and pigs and compost anything that needs to be composted,” says Christie.

Some of the young chickens in the community food centre's garden.
Some of the young chickens in the community food centre's garden.

The programs offered by the Mount Paul Community Food Centre are inclusive of all people, regardless of any factors, including economic level.

“All of our program is zero barrier, so that means there is absolutely no cost associated to anything offered here. It is for all economic levels, but that being said, the target for those that are unable to pay any sort of registration fee. We normally ask for a registration commitment, but not any financial,” says Gourlay.

Although the majority of the funding comes from partnerships, Christie says that the program aims to be as self sustained as possible.

“Sustainability is definitely something that we continue to work towards,” Christie says. “We have a lot of funding though our mentorship association with Community Food Centres Canada, and we have some other funding from different sources through community.”

The Mount Paul Community Food Centre offers daily educational courses, meals, and programs. You can check out the calendar of events here.

 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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