Food & Friends - Feeding People in Many Ways
In 2012, the parish of St. Michael, Canmore facilitated a community discussion on poverty. Despite being seen as a wealthy community, the high cost of living has resulted in varied manifestations of poverty within the Bow Valley, one of which is the lack of food security. From this discussion, a collaborative effort was born between St. Michael and other local churches and community groups beginning in February 2013 to provide a weekly meal called Food & Friends.
Food & Friends is open to absolutely everyone at no cost, and provides a nourishing and filling meal every Monday evening. Each meal consists of a homemade soup, an entree, a salad or two, veggies and dip, cheese and pickles and an abundance of dessert. The meals take place at St. Michael's hall and are cooked in its kitchen. However, it would be a mistake to call this anything other than a community initiative. To date, individuals have been assisted from every walk of life, and volunteers are provided on a rotating schedule from six churches of different denominations, local community service clubs, youth social justice groups from both the public and Catholic schools and many more. Funding or in-kind support are provided by patrons who are able to put some money in the basket on the dessert table, individual donations, grants from Rotary and Lions clubs, the Bow Valley Food Bank, 100 Women Who Care, the local thrift store, Farm Box, St. Michael's, Save On Foods and a number of local businesses.
Since Food & Friends' inception, it has served over 53,000 dinners! More remarkably, each quarter over quarter sees a continuous growth in the number of dinners served. Currently, each Monday night sees an average of over 340 dinners served. Are all of these people hungry? Yes, but not necessarily only for food. Some patrons are clearly lacking food due to limited financial resources, but others are hungry in different ways...seniors seeking an outing together, single parents being able to "treat" their kids to a healthy dinner out, young workers on their own for the first time looking for a home cooked meal, those who are lonesome and in desperate need for fellowship, old timers looking for that community feel they cherished from days gone past, and the list goes on.
If you would like to find out more about this initiative, lessons learned and key elements needed for success, feel free to contact Rev. Sean Krausert (Deacon).