Community kitchen looks to fill a growing need

Shelbourne Community Kitchen needs public's help to keep its shelves stocked

Shelbourne Community Kitchen program co-ordinator  Kim Cummins (left) and board chair Laura Cochrane take stock of the supplies in the kitchen’s pantry.

Shelbourne Community Kitchen program co-ordinator Kim Cummins (left) and board chair Laura Cochrane take stock of the supplies in the kitchen’s pantry.

The Shelbourne Community Kitchen has witnessed phenomenal growth in its 18 months of operation. But the program’s success can present challenges of its own.

The kitchen serves as a one-stop shop for its participants. Instead of the traditional food hamper, participants are invited to browse the pantry – selecting one item from one shelf, two from another, not forgetting to take a selection of produce from the fridge, much of it grown on site.

“I think our pantry program really champions dignity, choice and respect. People get to pick their own food, they’re not being supervised. And then the fresh produce coming in from our garden programs as well as gardeners in the area – it’s just a great little system,” said program co-ordinator Kim Cummins.

“It’s an opportunity to do some meal planning and choose the foods you’d like to take home and avoid the foods that you can’t eat. And for us it saves quite a lot of labour in doing pre-packed hampers, so it’s a mutual benefit.”

The kitchen serves more than 260 participants, with about half coming in to pick up an assortment of food each month.

“They identify what week they’re going to come in the month before. We don’t take appointments but we do need to somehow manage the flow of traffic.” said board chair Laura Cochrane, noting the kitchen at 3541 Shelbourne St. is located in a residential neighbourhood.

“It also allows us to prepare for how many people are coming that week. We also have a small food voucher that we give to people.They walk out with a bag of groceries and their food voucher.”

The voucher is worth $10 at Fairway Market. “It used to be more but we’re growing. We have a set amount every month that we can spend on food vouchers,” said Cochrane.

The declining voucher amount and sparse selection on some pantry shelves has the Shelbourne Community Kitchen Society issuing a public appeal.

“During the summer months lots of people are away and there’s lots more going on. We usually have a bit of stores, but that’s really been depleted,” said Cochrane.

The society is requesting donations of canned meats (tuna, salmon, chicken, etc.), pasta and pasta sauce, canned fruits and vegetables, and canned soups and vegetables. The donations of unopened, non-perishable foods can be made until Sept 30 at the Van City location at 100-1590 Cedar Hill Cross Rd., Scotiabank at Shelbourne Plaza, 3609 Shelbourne St., and the Lutheran Church of the Cross at 3787 Cedar Hill Rd., during office hours Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“A lot of people say that we didn’t really recognize that poverty and food insecurity is an issue in Saanich, but it is growing,” said Cummins. “I’ve found with our volunteers and other people in the community, once they start thinking about what poverty looks like in Saanich, suddenly they already know people picking up bottles or hanging out in the parks. It’s not just a downtown issue, it’s a whole CRD issue.”

The Shelbourne Community Kitchen grew out of discussions originating in early 2012 in response to poverty-related food insecurity, finally taking shape with the kitchen’s opening in March 2015.

“We realized we wanted to do something more than the traditional food bank model. We wanted to provide a place where people could come and build community around food – where they could share the skills that they have and learn new food skills,” said Cochrane.

The results were almost immediate, with the numbers of participants and volunteers quadrupling in the first year. And there’s a close connection between the program participants and the 100 or so volunteers who help out on any given month.

“Almost half of our active volunteers are program participants, and that is part of the model we designed that we hoped would happen. That’s the community aspect,” said Cochrane. “People who come here and need programs we provide become part of the community that they contribute to. They hear about volunteer opportunities and they want to become involved.”

Many of the volunteers tend to the gardens, located in the yard behind the community kitchen as well as at a separate location.

As well as providing food for program participants, the gardens serve to improve the food literacy of volunteers and participants alike. In the garden you can find items like tomatoes, salad greens, cucumbers, zucchinis, arugula and an assortment of different herbs.

“For the most part we try and grow things that would be preventative cost-wise to purchase. We try and stay away from carrots and potatoes because we can buy them for cheaper than we can grow them,” said Cummins.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the kitchen or participating in its program can drop by the kitchen at 3541 Shelbourne St. during office hours, Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“They can just come here and access the pantry on their first time. But if they’re going to access it again, they have to become a member,” said Cochrane, adding the registration form and code of conduct agreement can be taken home or filled out on site.

You can also contact the kitchen at 250-590-0980 or visit the website at www.shelbournecommunitykitchen.ca.

 

Just Posted

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

The Pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. (Courtesy of theTownship of Esquimalt/ Facebook)
Esquimalt Rec Centre restarting everyone welcome swim times later this month

The 90-minute sessions will be on select evenings and weekends

Theatre SKAM is offering mobile, pop-up performances to Greater Victoria residents once again this summer. They’ll feature emerging artists Yasmin D’Oshun, Courtney Crawford, Kaelan Bain and Kendra Bidwell (left to right). (Courtesy of Theatre SKAM)
Theatre performances can be ordered to Greater Victoria front yards this summer

Theatre SKAM offering mobile, pop-up performances once again

Diana Durrand and Arlene Nesbitt celebrate the new artist space in 2014. Gage Gallery moves this summer from Oak Bay to Bastion Square in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gage Gallery moving to Bastion Square

Vivid Connections, a showcase by Laura Feeleus and Elizabeth Carefoot, opens new venue June 29

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read