Organization Spotlight: Nanaimo Community Kitchens Society
The focus of the Nanaimo Community Kitchens Society is to gather people together in small groups called community kitchens, and facilitate the preparation of healthy, nutritious meals. At DP World Canada, we believe in building awareness about great organizations such as this one that is doing important work in the communities in which we live, work and play.
Nanaimo Community Kitchens (NCK) began as a small organization in 1991, led by a dietitian who wanted to create an accessible, hands-on cooking program for low-income people in her community. After a few pilot programmes, Nanaimo Community Kitchens became a registered society in 1993 and has since grown into a full-fledged nonprofit charity.
How it Works
Nanaimo Community Kitchens programmes serves adults across all walks of life; pregnant women, First Nations communities, seniors, adults with diverse abilities, those facing homelessness, newcomers to Canada, and more. Although not everyone in the programme is low-income, NCK’s mission is to help those who are food insecure.
Locations, times, and topics of each community kitchen varies based on the needs and interests of each group. What’s great about NCK, is that it is uniquely designed to set up shop in locations where the need is greatest. Groups typically meet at a designated location in the community to cook a meal together. Participants may enjoy that meal together or take servings home.
Nanaimo Community Kitchens strives to reach new groups of people in different ways. Below are a few of its key programmes:
Bellies to Babies is a group for pregnant women and parents of little ones. Childcare is provided to reduce the barriers for many parents who would otherwise not be able to attend.
Happy Chef was formed by a group of Chinese women who wanted to learn Canadian recipes, spend time together, and practice their English.
Cooking Out of the Box is a group that takes a box of fresh fruits and vegetables and creates various recipes and meals using the ingredients in the box as a basis of the meal.
There have also been collaborations with local agencies like Seniors Connect, an agency that aims to get seniors out and about and to feel less isolated.
Benefits to the Community
The overarching goal of any one of these programmes is to ensure food security in Nanaimo. When a community is food secure, all its citizens have dignified access to affordable, good-quality, nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and preferences. Food security is a critical component of living a healthy and active life.
Nanaimo Community Kitchens’ work doesn’t just provide a hot meal to people in need at one point in time—the experience and skills it teaches can help people work toward achieving food security in the long-term. The programmes empower individuals to make healthy choices with options that are appealing while also instilling confidence to try new foods or recipes.
Another important component of the charity is that it bolsters the community by reaching populations that have barriers to social activities. People who are isolated due to age, disability, or family obligations are able to engage with like-minded folks in a meaningful way. The social aspect of these gatherings is just as important and beneficial for participants as they learn from each other by sharing experiences and knowledge.
How to Support Nanaimo Community Kitchens Society
What enables Nanaimo Community Kitchens to be so impactful in the community is the support it receives from people and businesses who volunteer their time, talents, and resources.
Financial contributions are paramount to the sustainability of this charity. With the help of various partnerships within the community, NCK makes the most out of the generous contributions it receives. If volunteer efforts are more conducive to your business’s corporate social responsibility resources, there are plenty of opportunities there as well. Assistance is often needed during off-times such as evenings and weekends (most participants work full-time jobs and aren’t able to attend programmes during regular business hours). Volunteers must be able to listen to the needs of participants, meet them where they are, and be enthusiastic about helping facilitate a productive and enriching process.
Volunteers are also needed for behind-the-scenes and administrative work to help operations run smoothly.
Nanaimo Community Kitchens could be the perfect recipient of your company’s corporate responsibility resources, and there are so many ways businesses can get involved. Reach out to determine a partnership that best suits everyone’s needs.
Also be sure to follow Nanaimo Community Kitchens on its Facebook page for updates about events, and to see the creative and unifying work they’re doing in the Nanaimo Community.