Community kitchen coordinator Sheila Avery

Community kitchen helps teach cooking basics for families

In Saanich, a pair of community kitchens are operated by Saanich Neighbourhood Place in the George R. Pearkes Recreation Centre.

You’ve heard of community gardens, but what about community kitchens?

The growing movement, whose purpose is to provide families with the chance to gather together and prepare healthy, affordable meals which are then shared among the group, isn’t exactly brand new, but it’s just now beginning to gain momentum in the Capital Region.

In Saanich, a pair of community kitchens are operated by Saanich Neighbourhood Place in the George R. Pearkes Recreation Centre.

“It’s really taking off, because more and more people are finding it difficult to fill their food needs, especially if they don’t have a big budget for that sort of thing,” said Sheila Avery, coordinator of food security programs at Saanich Neighbourhood Place.

Avery, who has overseen similar programs “across the prairies” added that while making meals is the stated purpose of the kitchens, in reality they provide much more than just food.

“It’s also a way for people to meet others,” she said. “Maybe they’re new to the area and they don’t know anyone, or they want to get to know their neighbours better.”

The social aspect of the kitchens can’t be overstated, said the executive director of the provincially funded centre.

“In my mind, it’s as important as the meals they come away with,” Colleen Hobson said. “The support systems are huge. In times of high stress, just having an outlet can be great. Some of the conversations you hear in the kitchen are pretty enlightening.”

The community kitchens operate on about $30,000 a year, with the money coming from  gaming revenue. The funds don’t cover the cost of all the food — some comes either from donations or the participants themselves. The grants also pay a portion of Avery’s salary.

Saanich Neighbourhood Place also offers childminding services, which helps parents take part in many of the programs offered at the centre.

That focus on inclusiveness extends to individual cooking abilities.

“We have two ends of the spectrum,” said Avery, about the community kitchen participants. “One’s ‘I’m going to teach you how to cut an onion,’ and the other are super cooks.”

The cost to participants is minimal. There’s no charge if you supply your own food. If you don’t, the cost is $5 per session.

Generally, participants come once every week or two on a rotating basis. Each session yields three or four meals that can be taken home and frozen for future consumption. The menu varies depending on what food is available.

There are anywhere from 100 to 150 people involved in the kitchens at a given time throughout the year, said Hobson, adding that she and Avery are exploring ways to expand the program so that it can run during the evening as well.

As the kitchens continue to grow, so too does a sense of community.

“When you see the success of support networks, with food being the medium that joins people together, that’s the best part,” said Avery.

For more information on available programs, including the community kitchens, visit www.saanichneighbourhoodplace.com/programs.

editor@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Local tongue-in-cheek opportunists flog snow huts

‘Executive’ and ‘eco-friendly’ one-bedrooms pop up on Craigslist and Used Victoria

Province urges backcountry adventurers to stay safe this weekend

Search and rescue responded to 28 incidents last Family Day weekend

Snow storms prompt reminders to prepare for emergencies

Province reminds public of essential supplies

West Shore fundraiser serves up hope for kids with food allergies

Proceeds assist Oral Immunotherapy Research Program at BC Children’s Hospital

Sidewalk Trio reuniting at The Oaks

The next Blues for Eric scholarship benefit concert is Feb. 23

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read