When Al Lindskoog delivered the bad news last Friday that the Rainbow Kitchen volunteers will serve their last free home-cooked meal to the needy two days before Christmas, a hush fell over the dining room.
David Minshall was saddened by the news that the Anglican Diocese of B.C. has received an offer to purchase St. Saviour’s church and parish hall in Vic West, one of seven properties on the South Island up for sale.
“It will certainly be a hardship not to be able to come here,” said Minshall, a 67-year-old Victoria resident who says the meals help him stretch his old age pension. “I started coming here about a year ago. I heard how good the food was here.”
The Victoria Rainbow Kitchen Society, which formed in spring 2010, was notified last week that they had to be out of the hall at 310 Henry St. by Jan. 19.
“We knew it was coming and at the same time wished it wouldn’t happen at all,” said Lindskoog, a society director and volunteer dishwasher at the kitchen. “We would be much happier remaining there because that’s where the Rainbow Kitchen has become what it is.”
To give themselves time to pack, volunteers will serve the final meal Dec. 23, “which is in a way a really sad way to do it, but at the same time we can end with a party, so to speak,” Lindskoog said.
The operation started out a decade ago by serving soup and sandwiches one day a week. Even after St. Saviour’s Anglican Church closed in March 2010, 100 volunteers have continued to take turns serving about 125 people a day, Monday to Friday, including most statutory holidays.
People living on fixed incomes, single parents, families in need and the homeless don’t just come to Rainbow Kitchen for the meal.
“At the same time it’s much more than a building, it’s the sense of community and the people that go there,” Lindskoog said.
Despite having to close, there may still be a pot of gold waiting at the end of their rainbow, in the form of a new home.
The society’s directors are in early talks to move to another site in the Vic West-Esquimalt area, Lindskoog said, adding that even if that works out, the kitchen will have to close for “a few weeks” while the site is upgraded.
“It’s always sad when something like this happens at a time when the people who are least able to handle the challenge of being in need are facing a greater need,” Lindskoog said.
To donate or volunteer, please call 250-384-2069.