As a response to growing food insecurity during the pandemic, community members are putting on their chef hats to make food for free at a local church.
The Church of the Apostles created Kitchen Bees, an initiative where family members and people quarantining together can take turns using the church’s kitchen to make food of their choice.
The program will provide food such as soups, frozen dinners, sandwiches, and baked goods for support groups HOPE House, The Bench and the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition.
Manager of the Kitchen Bees initiative Alex Walmsley said with restaurants running at limited capacity, there is a decrease in the number of people going out to purchase food during the pandemic.
“We thought it was a good idea to create this program to make sure there aren’t people who are struggling to eat in Guelph,” said Walmsley.
He said as soon as the call out for volunteers went out on the church’s Facebook group, community members were eager to help out.
Volunteers helping out for Kitchen Bees are screened before they come to the church. Once they inform the program coordinator John Dennis of the food they want to make, the ingredients for that dish are ready for them when they arrive through the help of various grants.
A grant from the Guelph COVID-19 Community Response Fund provided by the United Way of Guelph Wellington Dufferin and the Guelph Community Foundation helped to kick start the program.
Additional funding came from the Second Chance Employment Agency to hire a Program Facilitator.
The SEED is also providing donations of food to support the Kitchen Bees.
Walmsley said the group is taking many safety precautions to make sure the community is safe. He said the kitchen is thoroughly sanitized before and after volunteers use it to cook food. Volunteers wear masks while in the kitchen, and social distancing measures from anyone outside the kitchen is strictly enforced.
“I clean up the whole space and I make sure the food reached the proper temperature and that it’s frozen properly and all that,” said Walmsley.
“There is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into making this food. The church is really proud of the volunteers who are preparing this delicious food for our community,” said Dennis.
Volunteers who want to prepare food can contact the Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if there are spots available.