Bringing everyone to the table for a meal
“It makes a big difference – a meal,” says Rod, a regular at the Mount Paul Community Food Centre’s Community Meal program.
And it can mean so many different things to different people. The free meals, offered through this United Way British Columbia-funded program, of course mean nutritious food – something that may be out of reach for some of the program’s clients.
But it can also be a connection to other services, or a reason to get out of your home and meet people.
Whatever their reasons, the Community Meal program is there for them, says Dawn, community resources manager at Mount Paul Community Food Centre.
“It’s open to anybody in the community that want to access it … It can be people who are food insecure or people who are just looking to branch out and make a social connection and have a meal with other people,” she says.
“The meal is free so anybody can come and access it.”
What a meal means to Rod
“When you grow up on a farm, you’re used to having fresh food. And when you live in an apartment, you can’t grow it. You have to buy everything,” says Rod. “You come here, it’s kind of a treat because you don’t have to cook and you will meet people. You’re with people. You’re not sitting at home by yourself.”
Having spent 16 years in the community, Rod says he’s been coming to Mount Paul Community Food Centre for about five.
He says he sees the Community Meal program benefitting a lot of seniors, as well as the general population.
“There is a lot of people that don’t have everything that they need.”
Continuing despite the pandemic
The pandemic threatened to close the program, just as many were in greater need of a healthy meal. But the Mount Paul Community Food Centre, with the help of United Way British Columbia funding, was instead able to increase the meals from a few days a week to five days a week.
Dine-in meals had to stop, but meals continued to be made fresh, and sent out to people in community the day they were made.
“We were doing 250 meals five days a week,” says Dawn.
We need your help to keep vital connections to food and community
In Canada, at least 1 in 8 households are food insecure. That means they may run out of food before they have the money to buy more, they cannot afford a healthy diet, they have to actively skip meals, or are going hungry.
Many believe the pandemic is only making matters worse. And it is certainly making us more isolated. Programs like the Community Meal do so much with your donations to United Way British Columbia, creating vital connections between community members in addition to providing healthy meals. But we need your help to continue and expand these services.
“It’s great that they have this, and people donate to this,” says Rod of the program.
The more you give, the more people we can help.
Please, if you can, donate today.