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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A driver stopped by Saanich police following a road rage incident on April 15 was found to be impaired, in violation of a license restriction and in a damaged vehicle. They received a 90-day driving prohibition and a 30-day vehicle impound. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Driver stopped on Pat Bay Highway after road rage reports fails breathalyzer test: police

Several witnesses reported driver to Saanich police, school officer intercepted

Police are looking for the driver of this truck after it nearly hit a group of kids in Esquimalt on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Police)
Victoria police looking for driver of truck that nearly missed kids before crashing in Esquimalt

The truck’s driver, a man, fled the scene after the truck crashed into a house’s fence

Pacific Institution in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media file photo)
Inmate with ties to Victoria dies in Abbotsford institution

Brodie Bingley, who was sentenced for aggravated assault in Maple Ridge died April 13

Traffic is backed up due to a crash on Highway 1. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)
Traffic backs up on Highway 1 westbound in View Royal after crash

First responders are reportedly on the scene in View Royal

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The District of Sooke will continue to flower with Communities in Bloom. (Pixabay)
Sooke will bud but not bloom in provincial competition

Council scales back participation in Communities in Bloom

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Bulldogs forward Stephen Castagna flips the puck into the Clippers zone during a game on Oct. 24. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Island BCHL game postponed due to ‘potential positive’ COVID-19 test

Nanaimo Clippers team suspends activities, players isolating pending further test results

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

Most Read