After a year on the hunt, a Saanich community group is zeroing in on a location for a community kitchen in the Shelbourne Valley area.
In June, three churches and two community associations banded together to create the Shelbourne Community Kitchen Society, an organization borne out of a growing number of area residents seeking help to buy healthy food.
Rev. Lyle McKenzie with the Lutheran Church of the Cross, said the society has found a tentative location and is talking with Saanich about establishing a kitchen, although it is not revealing details yet.
“This is a possibility we are very hopeful about,” McKenzie said. “We are making progress. It’s a lot of prep work and we’re as anxious as anyone to see a grand opening for the kitchen. But it will take time to get there.”
The Shelbourne Community Kitchen Society – which includes members from Lutheran Church of the Cross, St. Luke’s Anglican Church, St. Aidan’s United Church, Mount Tolmie Community Association and Camosun Community Association – has been seeking a location preferably near Shelbourne Street that has a kitchen, a place for people to eat and room for a garden.
In the meantime, the society has hired a part-time program co-ordinator to start creating temporary community kitchen events using church facilities. The initiative has access to a $100,000 grant from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada.
McKenzie noted that finding an affordable location that works as a kitchen is difficult, but they’ve also had to overcome the perception that they’re trying to open a soup kitchen.
“We are having to emphasize that difference,” he said. “Some peoples’ perception is we’re creating a gathering for a large free meal, where people can come and go.
“It is not a soup kitchen. The community kitchen is a place where people come together to cook, eat and clean up together and take food home as a way to help their food security. And education is a big part of that.”
The Shelbourne Community Kitchen will also act as a localized food bank, taking over from the informal food pantry system set up by the Shelbourne-area churches.
The Lutheran Church has the largest food pantry and distributes food and food vouchers to about 30 people per month.
The Lutheran Church is hosting its eighth annual fall supper on Saturday evening, and the proceeds will go toward the Shelbourne Community Kitchen project.
The event features a traditional turkey dinner cooked and served by a small army of volunteers using donations from the community. It typically raises around $3,000.
The fall supper has already sold 200 tickets at $18 each so not many seats remain.
Call the Lutheran Church, 3787 Cedar Hill Rd., at 250-477-6222, to reserve tickets.
Click here for more on the Shelbourne Community Kitchen.