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

Victoria Beer Week celebrates ‘five years of cheers’

Nine day craft beer festival delves into home brew workshops, food pairings, and a road trip to Sooke

Transit open houses on better Peninsula bus service

SIDNEY — Improved BC Transit services to West Sidney and to the… Continue reading

Victoria Orchid Society hosts 30th annual show

Orchids in full bloom March 3 and 4 at Our Lady of Fatima Hall

Free public lecture timed with scientific meeting in Sidney

Oceanographer Gregory Johnson speaks on the robots that monitor ocean temperature and salinity

Victoria playing host to regional farm market conference

Food industry experts to attend three-day networking event, which is open to the public

The 2018 B.C. Games wrap up in Kamloops

The B.C. Winter Games comes to a close after a weekend of fun and excitment

Naval ship spills 30,000 litres of fuel in the Strait of Georgia

HMCS Calgary spilled fuel east of Nanaimo and Parksville on Saturday

Student Voice: Phones in school a tool for learning or weapon of mass distraction?

Spectrum student questions role of smart phones in school

Library’s French collection gets $15,000 boost

Provincial grant adds extra French-language materials to Greater Victoria Public Library collection

Spectrum to stage Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Students having fun with laughs in Broadway musical

B.C. boosts support for former youth in government care

More support coming for rent, child care and health care while they go back to school

Saanich skater golden at B.C. Winter Games

Desiree Grubell takes gold, Emily Walzak silver in Special Olympics figure skating.

SMUS stages Catch Me If You Can, the true tale of a con-artist

Musical follows tales of impersonator Frank Abagnale Jr.

B.C. VIEWS: Our not-so-New Democrats don’t rock the boat

Finance Minister Carole James takes the wheel, steers similar course

Most Read