A new charitable kitchen is cooking for the community.
It was a dream of the Carrier Sekani Family Services agency (CSFS) and it came to a boil when The Keg provided a key donation to make it happen.
CSFS is home to a number of social development programs and frontline help for the region's less fortunate. One of those initiatives is the Community Linkages Soup Bus project co-ordinated by Patrick Coon. He was running it largely out of his home and the commercial kitchen of his caterer wife Georgina Hill.
Now it has its own space, and on Friday the apron was pulled back to reveal its gleeming surfaces to the public for the first time. It is located in a CSFS satellite building in the 800 block of Third Avenue (not far from the agency's headquarters on Queensway).
"This used to be a Salvation Army building, and they had a kitchen in here too, but it was old and in real disrepair," said Coon. "It had to be totally renovated, to bring it up to modern food service standards. It didn't have the best odor, it needed new plumbing and wiring, new flooring, the ceiling had to be ripped out and replaced, it was a top-down project."
CSFS paid for the renovations out of its savings, but that wasn't the only cost associated with launching the new kitchen. The Keg restaurant chain completed the dream by providing $25,000 out of a national community service program commemorating the chain's 40th anniversary.
"It was a contest and I entered it," Coon said. "The theme was 'what is your big idea for your community' and since this has been forming in our minds for a long time, it was easy to describe. We just didn't have the money, but we won this donation and now it's not just a big idea."
The Keg's money was used to outfit the kitchen in all its appliances, equipment and cabinetry. Other than some big items found at auction, all of the outfitting was sourced from local businesses, Coon said.
Now, in addition to the soup bus program, the kitchen will be pressed into regular service for things like the CSFS men's and women's support groups, community events, and education.
"We want to bring people in to train them about life skills, all connected to food," said Coon. "We will show how to cook nutritious foods, food preservation, meal planning, cost-saving grocery shopping, different skills to help families."
On Friday, the first meal it made for the public was a chili and bannock buffet for community members and the regular CSFS clientele alike, all sharing a hot bowl of community cheer.