Volunteers are busy stocking the shelves at the new home of the Shelbourne Community Kitchen in Saanich
“It is so exciting to have our new home all set up and ready to go,” says Shelbourne Community Kitchen program director Kim Cummins.
“It took us three years to get here, from the little white house that could to the big white kitchen that can!” adds volunteer Clarice Dillman, who is the board chair for the non-profit.
The neighbourhood food centre — which helps people on low income cook healthy meals — had totally outgrown its former location.
“We were operating out of a 1,000-square foot bungalow for the last seven years and we were just bursting at the seams,” Cummins says.
The new space is quadruple the size, with a huge on-site storage area so they don’t have to drive back and forth between locations, and it’s helping the nonprofit meet the sky-rocketing need for food support and food literacy programs in Victoria.
“We have increased our number of participants in our program 225 per cent since COVID began so we’re having a real hard time keeping up and we know there will be more,” Dillman explains.
A lot more families and students are reaching out support, as people struggle during the pandemic.
“There were a lot of folks out there who were already living on a really tight budget and it kind of just pushed them over the tipping edge,” says Cummins.
Dillman knows how hard it can be to make ends meet. She was a single mom to two teenage boys and times were tough, and that’s why giving back is so important to her.
“Every time I hear the stories of how we’ve helped a family or an individual, it’s just so heartwarming,” says an emotional Dillman. “I’m tearing up a little! I walk into this place and I tear.”
The Shelbourne Community Kitchen is run on volunteers — 170 of them — like Pam Terry , who’s been donating her time for the last five years.
“I operate my own little grocery store here and I get to give it out for free!” says Terry. “And the people that come to receive our products here are so grateful, sometimes overcome with gratitude.”
Volunteer Antonio Marreiros, a retired cook, wanted to help make a difference by sharing his skills.
“I grew up in Portugal and had very little so using everything in the fridge and having those skills are very important instead of throwing it away,” Marreiros says.
It all comes down to helping others, and building community and connection.
“We can build a stronger community by working together,” Cummins says. “In a country like Canada, it’s seems pretty insane that anybody is struggling to keep up with food on the table.”
The renovation of the new space was made possible by generous donations, including a total of $112,000 in donations of project management time, skilled labour and materials.
The two largest donors were from the Banyan Group and Brewis Electric.
Shelbourne Community Kitchen Benefit Concert
Join us in celebrating the holiday season with vocalist Edie DaPonte and the smooth musical rhythms of the Bob Watts Trio. All proceeds raised from ticket sales and throughout the event will be matched by a generous anonymous donor and will help to provide vital funding to support The Kitchen’
s programs and services.