The Church of the Apostles Kitchen Bee relief program will be extended through 2021 after a successful fundraiser saw the program surpass its initial fundraising goal, allowing for the initiative to continue operating past the expended end date of August.
Now, the program will push through to the end of December with the program facilitators saying they are hopeful for the future of the program and would like to see it extended into 2022.
In March, the program put a call out for help in funding their program as the demand for meals was increasing as did the budget of the program.
Launching a crowd-funded campaign on Indiegogo, the program surpassed the goal of $2,000 with donations pouring in from 20 backers to the tune of $2,100.
“We pretty much started that fundraiser with the intention of raising enough money for us to go to the end of summer,” said Kitchen Bees facilitator Alexis Mimacho. “The main reason for the Indiegogo that we launched was for the funding for the summer so that we can increase our hours and the days we are making meals.”
Mimacho added she was not sure if they would even hit their goal, but are thankful they not only hit their target but surpassed it.
This also means the sign boasting of reaching the 7,500 milestone of meals distributed by the Kitchen Bees will be changed shortly, as Mimacho said they expect to hit the 10,000 mark in the coming months.
She added that with the number of meals they distribute every week, the 7,500 milestone is a lower estimate of the total meals distributed, and she believes the number is closer to 8,000.
“The main thing is that we have doubled our days from two days a week to four days a week, so we went from 100 meals to 200 meals a week because of the fundraiser,” said Mimacho. “This means that from now on out the program will be doing a minimum of 200 meals per week.”
In addition to the crowd-funded camping, several private and corporate donations have been made toward the program.
Since May of 2020, the program has raised roughly $80,000 from Second Harvest, Food Rescue in Toronto, the City of Guelph, Guelph community foundation through federal grants, the United Way, private donations and donations from local businesses.
Kitchen Bees program coordinator John Dennis said he estimates an additional $10,000 worth of food has been donated through the SEED community food project.
“We are always satisfied with the response from volunteers and support from the community," said Dennis. "We feel we are fulfilling an important niche helping other groups with the response to COVID and providing emergency food to those in need in Guelph, and we are happy to do it and see where the program takes us."
And while the program has been extended, Mimacho said there is no shortage of volunteers eager to put on an apron and whip up some meals.
Originally slated to cook meals every Tuesday and Thursday, the growing response and increased donations have allowed or the Kitchen Bees to double its output with volunteers now putting in two shifts on Monday and a shift on Tuesday and Thursday.
Launched in April of 2020 as a response to the growing food insecurity community members faced from the pandemic, the program has been providing weekly meals free of charge to community members facing a food shortage.
Meals are distributed at the bench, which sits at the corner of Wyndham Street North and Woolwich Street.