A group from our parish was actively looking for ways to serve “outside” our community. Food is a basic need, and our area was identified as one with many in need of assistance. The Parish partnered with Catholic Care DARA to open the Toronto Community Kitchen in October 2019.

We offered a meal to anyone in need. There are many people who experience financial difficulty and run short of money for food. There are also those that live alone and need companionship, someone to share a meal and their story with. This is indeed a great need, and our kitchen was set up with helpers to serve food and helpers to sit and listen.

We were able to help several local families and individuals. The Community Centre was a lovely venue for people to visit and outside provided a great space for kids to play and run.

Unfortunately, with COVID we had to close our Kitchen. We were able to adapt, and we have been delivering meals weekly to our friends since May 2020. Our team of 5 drivers have delivered almost 1800 meals in the last 12 months. We have another team of 7 who go into Newcastle each week and have helped cook and package the 500 meals that DARA delivers across the Hunter area.

Offering food and friendship to our neighbours is a simple act of love for our neighbours. Our actions show Jesus’ love and when we reach out, we invite others to encounter Jesus’ love through us.

Margaret Robens explains why she helps with the Kitchen:

I am a practical type of person and like to be of help to others, so I enjoy doing activities that are of a ‘Service” nature and that are fairly structured. Any activity that has to do with people always provides opportunities for some unpredictability, so it is never boring. I like the challenge of being stretched out of my comfort zone of just doing things for my own family. I have met some lovely people through helping with DARA.

Deb and Col Gwynne add:

Our faith demands that we do more than just sit in a pew every Sunday, and the DARA kitchen service provided a tangible opportunity for us to do something practical to answer that call. Stepping out of our comfort zones to engage with our “guests” was initially challenging but also very rewarding to listen to their story. Unfortunately, the evolving COVID restrictions changed our interactions and temporarily resulted in more time spent in the kitchen to mass produce meals for delivery each week within the Diocese, but this was also very enjoyable to work with a team of committed individuals. When restrictions are lifted, we look forward to the opportunity to again serve those in our community face-to-face. We see this as part of our Mission and a way to Encounter Jesus.

Our Kitchen team has had to continuously adapt to changing demands and restrictions. If you have a heart to serve and enjoy meeting new people you might like to join our team. You can contact Bev McWilliam.