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

Shelbourne Community Kitchen vies for $20,000 prize

Epicure Foundation, based in North Saanich, will give five groups $20,000 each

A North Saanich company is giving five charities $20,000 each, and one of the finalists is very close to home.

Epicure, which has long supported food-related initiatives through its foundation, has shortlisted charities as far as Halifax and Pointe-Claire, Que. This year’s shortlist of 15 includes the Shelbourne Community Kitchen in Saanich, just 35 minutes away from Epicure’s own headquarters on the Saanich Peninsula.

The Kitchen, at 3541 Shelbourne St., teaches community members how to plan and make a healthy meal together to empower people and tackle food insecurity. Small groups of five or six, who are low-income or experiencing food insecurity in other ways, can choose their own ingredients and make extra portions to take home afterwards — all free of charge. They also offer a pantry for emergency food support.

“It’s an opportunity for people to socialize and to get some hands-on learning about nutrition, how to source nutritious food affordable and also share food knowledge they have because it’s a small group setting,” said the Kitchen’s board chair Laura Cochrane.

Being one of 15 finalists already guarantees the community kitchen will get an in-kind donation of cookware and food products from Epicure, which evolved from only selling pre-made spice blends into a direct-sales company where consultants offer cooking classes that use fresh ingredients. However, a final five charities will each get $20,000 as decided by an online vote.

The Kitchen has over 200 volunteers and supports more than 400 people, but there is still a waitlist of people in need, and Cochrane said that one paid staff member is not enough to keep up with demand.

To address this, the Shelbourne Community Kitchen is in the midst of their first fundraising drive. They hope to raise $80,000 which would pay for the programs and potentially another part-time staff member, because “the programs have just gotten too large for one person.”

Voting is open from Dec. 16-23. To vote, visit

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