The main story...
This summer has been exiting and productive time at the Kitchen - a time for testing new programs and developing new strategies.
Since the summer months are a popular holiday time, our cooking programs that need more volunteer support, such a Guys Night, Easy Meals and the International Cooking Nights, were put on pause.
In their place, we piloted our "Family Roots" program throughout July and welcomed the Casual Kitchens programs into our class rotation. The Casual Kitchens have smaller class sizes, and a less formal atmosphere. Recipes are a collaborative process, inspired by what is available. In a Casual Kitchen, participants prepare everything from dinners to take home, and school snacks like fruit leather, to Chinese dumplings and hot sauce.
Our garden teams saw a record number of participants and volunteers join the crews to lend a hand. The vegetable harvests helped to fill our Pantry fridge with fresh, beautiful produce and inspire our Kitchen team, and the harvests continue still. Our Busy Bees project received sponsorship to build a second top-bar bee hive (now in construction), with plans to develop the project into an education program in Spring 2018. Our fruit picking team is half way through their fourth season and while the fruit this year is not as abundant as last year, our amazing team continues to bring in over 200lbs of fresh fruit a week. On September 22nd, we will be pressing our first batch of soft apple cider just in time for Fall.
The high cost of living and the affordable housing crisis in Greater Victoria, are two key reasons that our Pantry registers new members seeking emergency food support each week. The need is greater than our capacity to meet it, so we maintain a waitlist and bring participants from the waitlist into the program when others no longer need emergency food support, or have moved from the area. We have worked hard to build new donor relationships with grocers, organize food drives with local businesses and schools, and encourage local gardeners to share their produce through our Grow-A-Row program, in order to provide a wide variety of nutritious food in the Pantry. We recently secured cold storage space from our friends at City Harvest Coop, which has increased our ability to accept larger quantities of donated perishables.
With a grant from the Victoria Foundation, we have been working to build new strategies, and to improve upon our current systems for fundraising, program evaluation and volunteer management. Work in all of these areas is ongoing, but a particular focus until the end of 2017 is our first fundraising campaign, which began with the 100% of the Board of Directors making a donation to the Kitchen in August. You will hear more about the fundraising campaign in the coming months, as we get the word out to the community, inviting our people to help us better meet the rising need in our community by making a donation to the Kitchen.
Looking to the fall and winter months, we have some exciting events and seasonal traditions planned, and in this edition of "The Scoop", you’ll find some interesting events and new volunteer opportunities to consider.
To all of our incredible volunteers, who help to make everything we do possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
In community spirit,