The Shelbourne Community Kitchen is moving into a permanent home after Saanich council gave the location a thumbs up last week.
The community kitchen, which offers meal preparation and other food literacy classes, will be up and running later this year at a three-bedroom bungalow at 3541 Shelbourne St. A nearby private garden will also be used to harvest vegetables.
“It’s not a very big house,” said Laura Cochrane, organizer with the community kitchen.
“We wanted to offer something more meaningful than a bag of groceries. This is an opportunity to build community, to meet people and share these experiences in a community setting.”
The group has been running food literacy and meal preparation classes out of St. Aiden’s United and the Lutheran Church of the Cross for the past year. Since then, clients who drop in to use food hampers have been invited to food preparation classes to help them save money and get more creative with meals.
“We’ve had up to 12 people in our weekly Easy Meals and Healthy Start classes,” Cochrane said. “We’re just recognizing that many people just don’t have enough income to do all the things they need to do. Healthy, nutritious food is difficult to get on the table.”
Last year, in partnership with the Mount Tolmie Community Association, Camosun Community Association and local churches, organizers secured a $100,000, three-year grant from the National Lutheran Church to expand their services. A lack of fixed address continued to be a hiccup in the long-term viability of the kitchen before last week, Cochrane said.
“What we were really looking for was a location right on the bus line and easily accessible by walking,” she said. “We had to ask permission to move into a house, because we won’t be using it strictly for residential use.”
Parking won’t be an issue when the community programs begin, as the adjacent Shelbourne Street Church of Christ will offer its parking lot on weekdays to community kitchen users.
There are also plans to reach out to disabled residents and isolated seniors, and run programs specifically tailored to their needs.
“We can do a lot more together, and that’s the point, especially if people are single, they can be isolated,” Cochrane said. “Food prices just keep going up and up and people’s incomes just aren’t keeping pace with it.”
See more at shelbournecommunitykitchen.ca.