What can I express about the Wednesday night Take-out meal dinner service at St. Thomas Anglican, in Weston?
With table fellowships as the goal, Kreative Kitchens was born. The program has evolved since its beginning, but we began by extending an invitation to our surrounding community to come join us for what we hoped would grow into a regular monthly meal. We were trying to have more stomachs feel fed, enabling spirits to have the chance to grow. Kreative Kitchens also provided valuable work experience for those within child/adult family service systems. This one platform of giving was able to address multiple needs.
We served one meal to our neighbours within our walls and then found we had to take a different approach. St. Thomas Anglican church in Weston already supports Kreative Kids, a program established within our neighbourhood for the last 10 years which helps to address the needs of youth by being a safe space for play, activities, and, most importantly, art. It is a place to be silly, feel inspired, and to get Kreative.
A global pandemic changed all our thoughts, hopes, and plans…
Not being able to open left a lingering need and a sense of emptiness throughout the community; how would the people/children be served? The two programs decided on a merger of sorts, establishing Kreative as our outreach umbrella. Our Kitchens avenue would work to feed our bodies every week, while the Kids half of our program began assembling craft bags, and sending activities to keep participants creating while we stayed home and kept safe. We shared space and commitment to service, as our Take-out Meal Program was formed.
From our meager beginnings—serving only 11 families at that first meal—our Wednesday night Take-out meal has grown into a weekly community event. 70 families consisting of 200- 300 souls line-up around our parish to receive the meal we have lovingly prepared. There are stories shared and life traumas expressed. There is joy resonating and laughter abounding. Some of our families have formed tighter knit groups, often sharing the load of picking up our dinner service, rotating responsibilities because each other’s rest is valued, acknowledged, and celebrated. Though feeding people is the focus of our Wednesday neighbourhood line up, it has created different avenues for connection as well. It is an honour to be thought of as an inclusive, safe, reliable place to look to and ask for help, where results and/or relevant information can be obtained.
Our Wednesday night Take-out meal has grown into a weekly community event. 70 families consisting of 200-300 souls line-up around our parish to receive the meal we have lovingly prepared. There are stories shared and life traumas expressed. There is joy resonating and laughter abounding.
We have established supportive giving relationships with many other agencies and programs. Maple Leaf has helped us provide for this community. On a weekly basis they share with us delicious carver hams. Every family that waits in our dinner line receives 2 hams to take home with them. Peak of the Market often helps by providing vegetables with which to prepare meals. They also occasionaly share surplus goods to hand out to our community members. Our Breadman (and associates), Cobb Bakery, Hildegard Bakery, Winnipeg Harvest, as well as Second Harvest have partnered with us. Our volunteers spend the days before Wednesday evening gathering the supplies and organizing wares into bags or boxes for foot travel.
Our community is growing friendships and support systems. There are many different agencies and outreaches with whom we share the resources gathered; this ensures little waste. For three years Kreative has extended gifts to these places: Nor West (Blake Gardens chapter), Serve the People organization, Lighthouse Mission, Siloam Mission, Weston School Breakfast Program, Macdonald Youth Services, and Tina’s Safe Haven on Selkirk. This kind of continued resource and idea sharing has also led to St. Pierre Bible Fellowship Church establishing their own take home meal program, serving 20+ families in southern Manitoba every week.
It has been over three years since our first Take-Out meal and we are proud to say we have served more than 20,000 meals. The talented team of wonderful people that band together each week to better serve this community is humbling. It is a blessing that I get to spend time in our kitchen, sharing talents/gifts, planning meals, and creating recipes to make the best use of the resources each week. We plan to keep giving as long as our hearts and finances allow.
Financial struggle is a reality most people can identify with. Not having enough to go around is a familiar feeling for households and public spaces alike. So, I ask you now to be generous, to send us your financial contributions, to help us spread the feeling of being fed.