Minister's Message : Transforming Community Through Food

In 2017, a grant of $10000 was received from the Erskine & American Fund through our Presbytery for Mission projects (particularly the commercial freezer). As our Office Coordinator and I write a request for 2018, some of the information gathered is good news to share with all:

Food security continues to be the heartbeat of SouthWest Mission. Our Food Hub includes Breakfast Club, Welcome Wednesdays (Mini-Market and Community Lunch), Collective cooking activities for all ages, and group purchasing.

Monies received from the Erskine and American fund in 2017 were an investment in our vision offering a radical inclusive hospitality that invites all, particularly our vulnerable population, into an experience of healthy, inclusive community.

In 2017 the Mini-Market was offered every two weeks in a sustainable model. Expenditures for fresh produce were $10,503.38 with revenues of $10,688.61. It averaged 30 individual shoppers feeding 55-60 people. Mini-Market was staffed entirely by a core Volunteer team of 4. We were able to offer longer hours in the summer months (10:30 am to 6:30 pm) to better accommodate 9-5 workers and to take advantage of the plentiful local merchandise.

In August we put our publicity budget to good use to print some 5000 postcards for distribution in the neighbourhood of the Mission. 30 Youth volunteers in town for Rendez-vous did the door-to-door distribution. We had a fantastic response!

The growth we experienced in 2017 has been mainly in Food transformation and distribution. This has been made possible by the presence of a Kitchen Coordinator  who began as a volunteer over a year ago and since September 2017 has been on the payroll at 20 hours a week through a Mission Support grant. Since having a “professional” Kitchen Coordinator, as well as adequate freezer space, we have been able to receive meat from Harvest Montreal for processing into community meals and take-out. The Welcome Wednesday community lunches (every two weeks with occasional lighter meals offered on the “off” weeks) have been very well received, bringing in an average of 42 people, and a total of $2094 in donations. A team of four cooks each week transformed food under the leadership of our kitchen co-ordinator with a total of 50 different volunteers participating in 2017.

Erskine funds in 2017 allowed us to realize the dream of a Community Dépanneur. Employing a commercial display freezer, we were able to offer nutritious soups and single-portion meals at suggested prices to anyone attending activities at the Mission or just dropping in. The Dépanneur has brought in some $1500 in donations since September, 2017. These prepared meals are taken out to seniors when requested and made available to the congregation on Sunday. In addition, any “extra” food we have (milk or bread from Breakfast Club, fresh vegetables not sold) goes into our Self-serve fridge, available at no cost to anyone needing it. 

We have reached more people with reduced mobility in the last year, although not exactly in the way we had foreseen. Deliveries were undertaken by a few volunteers throughout the year, but the SouthWest Boxing Day Community Turkey meal was the main event:

A total of 290 meals were provided to community at no cost, of which 149 were eaten in two sittings at the Mission.  The 40 volunteers that were involved in preparation, cooking, serving and delivering came from both the congregation, Mission and wider community. The 61 meals delivered to people with limited mobility included 3 local HLM's and 3 senior residences, and another 40 were taken out by people who attended the meal to shut-in family members and neighbours. There is an organic growing and transformation of community that is exciting, challenging, risk taking, all at the same time. 

We are living transformation as a community of faith, living gospel in action, seeking justice for a vulnerable community, welcoming neighbours into an experience of healthy and not expensive food.  We seek to be a vibrant outreach into our wider community and offer a model of transformation to our existing community of faith.

Strength! Courage!
Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged.
God, your God, is with you every step you take. (Joshua 1:9)

Ne tremble pas, ne te laisse pas abattre, car moi, le Seigneur ton Dieu, je serai avec toi partout où tu iras. (Josué 1.9)

Rev. David