Saanich Community Kitchen program co-ordinator Kim Cummins and president Marlene Bergstrom are ready for the house’s official grand opening on Monday

Saanich Community Kitchen program co-ordinator Kim Cummins and president Marlene Bergstrom are ready for the house’s official grand opening on Monday

Saanich community kitchen gets cooking

Shelbourne Community Kitchen opens officially on March 23

Renovations are complete and the Shelbourne Community Kitchen is open for business in its new three-bedroom home in Saanich.

The house gives the non-profit organization a centralized place to run its food literacy and meal preparation classes, which were previously done at St. Aiden’s United and the Lutheran Church of the Cross.

Classes are yet to start, but the Pantry Program food hamper has been underway since March 1. The grand opening is March 23, from 5 to 7 p.m.

“Let’s just say the previous tenants had worn the house down a little,” said president Marlene Bergstrom, one of 100 volunteers making the Community Kitchen a reality.

“Volunteers painted every wall and the kitchen was updated. A dry pantry room was refit with an industrial sink, but because they were motivated to stay within their license, the house has no dishwasher,” she said.

The Pantry Program includes shelves of food for self-selection, toiletries such as toilet paper, toothpaste and cleaning supplies (which can be a big hit on the grocery bill), as well as money to purchase fresh food at a grocery store for users on fixed and low incomes. The freezer room boasts two donated chest freezers and a fridge.

“We have three bedrooms, one is our office, one is our freezer and fridge room, and one is our Pantry Program,” Bergstrom said.

“We’re very lucky to have had EB Renovations and Rekindle Designs volunteer with us to make this a useful space.”

The ultimate goal is to promote food security by assisting low-income locals through learning and working together in a supportive community, said program co-ordinator Kim Cummins.

About a third of the backyard has been overturned and planted as a garden, as growing food is part of the many workshops which will be offered.

“The garden will be a place to learn but we also have a production garden in a private Gordon Head yard,” Cummins said.

Clients who drop in to use food hampers are invited to food preparation classes that will help them save money and get more creative with meals.

“Membership here is overlapping, we have volunteers at different levels,” Cummins said. “About 60 members are using the Pantry Program and a lot of them are gearing up to help out as volunteers, with work or with workshops.”

Visitors to Monday’s grand opening are asked to please bring a non-perishable food item for the house’s Pantry Program.

Coffee and snacks will be provided and board members, volunteers, partner organizations and the programs co-ordinator will be on hand.

The house is at 3541 Shelbourne St. There is some parking across the street at the Shelbourne St. Church of Christ, but Bergstrom is asking for visitors to use sustainable modes of transportation and not to park on any side streets out of respect for neighbours.

“We have a great relationship with neighbours, we delivered flyers to 70 houses, and they’re very supportive,” she said.

Visit shelbournecommunitykitchen.ca for more information.

reporter@saanichnews.com