St. Paul’s Family Resource Institute hosts a weekly Soup’s On community lunch, where patrons show up for a bite to eat and a chat with neighbours and friends. On December 5, 2019, they graciously offered to share their space with us.
It was a wet and dreary December day, and the air buzzed with the sounds of cheerful greetings, music, coffee and tea being poured and nervous chatter. United Way staff, partners, and local community members all gathered for a special announcement. Our team took over hosting and serving lunch, giving St. Paul’s volunteers the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a warm, hearty meal with other community members.
Good food can be a tool for building community, improving well-being, and reducing poverty.
When kitchens are inadequate though, it’s hard to bring people together over food. That’s why we were thrilled to announce the creation of the United Way Halifax Neighbourhood Kitchen Fund. The Neighbourhood Kitchen Fund will allow neighbourhood hubs to upgrade or replace appliances, renovate or upgrade kitchens and gathering spaces. They could even use it to purchase new equipment or supplies. The fund will improve kitchens and gathering spaces so that community members can enjoy good food in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.
The fund was co-created by BMO and Medavie.
BMO’s vision of Boldly Growing the Good fit well with the idea of a fund that would benefit neighbourhood kitchens. Justin Scully, Regional President of Business Banking for BMO Atlantic Canada, spoke at the launch.
“By investing in the renovation and modernization of neighbourhood kitchens, community organizations will be able to more effectively serve the communities they help.”
BMO knew their initial $300,000 investment could help the fund grow, and they were right. It wasn’t long before Medavie stepped up to become a second founding investor, and match BMO’s contribution with $300,000 of their own. Medavie is committed to improving the well-being of Canadians, and neighbourhood kitchens have a lot to offer.
Good food feels great – at home and in neighbourhoods.
Offering nourishing food and opportunities to find a sense of belonging will improve both physical and mental well-being of community members who use the kitchens.
Kristen Hollery, St. Paul’s Family Resource Institute’s Executive Director, spoke about how the investment would impact a community hub like the one she runs. “We have 50-60 community members come to our Soup’s On program every week. It brings people together, giving them a sense of community and the opportunity to build friendships. For some attendees, it may be their reason to get up on a Tuesday morning.”
St. Paul’s is fortunate to have a big kitchen and dining space. They have a team of regular volunteers that come out to serve weekly. The atmosphere is welcoming and people are treated with dignity and respect. Still, she noted that the organization plans to apply for the funds to replace their aging stove. There have been times when volunteers were unsure if the stove was going to make it through lunch. “If the stove gives out on us, it’s a big loss. A new stove would mean so much to the attendees and volunteers who come out each week to prepare and serve the meal.”
Facts & Stats
1 in 4
seniors in HRM live alone
of households in HRM are food insecure
neighbourhood hubs in HRM
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