The moment Karen Secord mentioned the concept of the Collective Kitchen to me was the moment that I decided to stop paying lip-service to the ‘idea’ of volunteering. That conversation was a personal turning point and prompted me to make a commitment to dedicating time and energy in a program that I thought was brilliant. It aligned perfectly with my food industry skill set, and, having previously met some of the neighbours who rely on the PFC at a Crockpot chef demo/lunch, I was enthusiastic about being part of a progressive community organization that dedicated itself to supporting those in need through good food.
The essence of the program is for a group of participants to cook a casserole style meal in large quantity and package it into individual containers, thus allowing them several healthy frozen meals kept in inventory at the PFC and accessed by the neighbours as needed. Now that we are 6 sessions in, I realize that it’s about so much more than that.
Generosity — The participants decided (and were quite adamant) at the first session that a portion of what we produced collectively would be made available for others in need who were not part of the group–those in need taking care of others in need.
Learning — Laughter, debate, expanding cooking skills and food knowledge, collective participation from prep and cooking to packaging and clean up—all the neighbours take so much pride in their PFC kitchen and the opportunities if affords them.
Confidence –– Some of the most valuable moments are to see various participants flourish, from quiet and introverted to confident and open, so very proud of what they’re accomplishing.
Community — A meal at the end of each session allows us to acknowledge what we’ve achieved in a few short hours, discuss and plan what we might cook the next date, give ourselves ‘props’ for the deliciousness that we’ve created and share gratitude for the organization and people who make it all possible. Thanks to Jo-Anne Laverty, co-owner of The Red Apron, who wrote this post for us about her Collective Kitchen experience. And huge thanks to the Trillium Foundation for providing us with the financial support that makes this program possible.