Come for Lunch
Stay for the Conversation
The funding received from Community Foundation of Southeastern Alberta in June 2022 has given our organization the needed support to move our idea, from a dream to a reality. We can now offer a consistent weekly meal program; in our community for our community. Food insecurity is becoming more prevalent among Alberta rural communities. Community members are struggling with mental health and addictions, unemployment, underemployment, inadequate childcare, increasing costs of food, and unpredictable energy bills. Although food banks provide food hampers, the addition of a prepared meal feeds those who are homeless or do not have physical resources to prepare food such as lack of electricity, running water, refrigeration, cooking utensils, or a functioning stove. Additionally, individuals may lack the physical or mental capacity and the knowledge to prepare healthy meals.
Come for Lunch, Stay for the Conversation Program is decreasing food insecurity while increasing social connection, sharing resources, building community relationships, and decreasing stigma through providing a hot nutritious meal in a safe, non-judgmental space. This program is inclusive of all community members. A pay-what-you-can model allows individuals who do not have financial means to pay for a meal to eat forfree, but also allows individuals who are able to pay, but seek social interaction to attend as well.
Running the program on Wednesdays during the same weekly time as the Hanna Food Bank is open, has been very successful. In the first six months of the program, 992 meals have been provided. Word is getting out in the community of the positive impacts the program is making. Our organization has been grateful to accept corporate and private donations to help with program costs.
What are participants saying about the program?
“With the hot lunch and free bread, you help more than you know. We all appreciate what you guys do for us.”
“It has been a great way to connect with other families,meet new people, and of course the food is delicious.”
“It’s a great program! I love to be able to have a hot homecooked meal. Being disabled it’s a struggle to make meals for myself. I also like meeting new people”
- Program Participants
“Come for Lunch, Stay for the Conversation Program is somuch more than food. Our organization has had the opportunity to meet a young mom and her children through the program. When they first started attending, mom was very quiet and guarded. Through friendly casual conversations, we engaged her to start attending a family literacy program. From this new connection a trusting relationship has been built, and Mom had the confidence to ask for additional supports. We have assisted mom in establishing a safety plan, accessing funding, connected her with additional resources, and helping her create a strategy towards moving her and her children out of their current unsafe situation. This life changing experience all evolved from attending our hot lunch program. Yes, the program is making a difference in people’s lives.”
- Doray Veno, Executive Director