As many businesses and charities close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shelbourne Community Kitchen is striving to continue to provide food services to low-income residents in the region.
The registered charity has been operating in its current location since March 2015, and acts as a neighbourhood food service, said program director Kim Cummins. The cooking program helps people cook, share and grow healthy meals as a community.
The kitchen also operates a pantry program that provides some 250 residents with healthy foods each month including locally-grown produce, staple goods and some ready-made items, Cummins said. Members can select the foods they receive from the pantry program and can access grocery vouchers for specific foods items not available at Shelbourne Community Kitchen.
The cooking program has been suspended due to the coronavirus, but food distribution through the pantry program will continue Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until further notice with an added delivery option launching on March 27 for those who can’t leave their homes.
Staff have implemented social distancing and extra cleaning protocols and members are not permitted inside, for now, Cummins explained. They can call to order their groceries or speak to volunteers through a window. Once their order is packaged, it will be placed outside for them to pick up. Orders can now also be placed twice a month.
Cummins said members have been relieved to know that the food services are still available.
“We’re doing even more than before,” as more people are facing financial insecurity, Cummins said, noting that the kitchen has already seen a rise in registration. “It’s nice to be a resource they can rely on.”
Aside from Cummins, the program is run by volunteers and she said numbers have been low. Anyone interested in helping with packing orders, making deliveries or other tasks is invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Shelbourne Community Kitchen is also seeking monetary donations online at shelbournecommunitykitchen.ca rather than food donations. Increased funds will permit bulk-buying to stock the pantry and allow more members to access food, Cummins said.
She added that local businesses have been donating food as they close down due to the virus and grocery stores have been supportive.
TheShelbourne Community Kitchen is taking new members for the pantry program and anyone interested in accessing the services can call 250-590-0980 or stop by 3541 Shelbourne St. to fill out a membership.