Contributor(s): Noa Kleinjan, Alli Armstrong, Jordyn Gronskei
Where Food and Community Come Together
Mount Paul Community Food Centre is a space located on the North Shore of Kamloops, BC where all members of the community can come and learn food-related skills, attend food-related classes and attend food-related events. It is part of the Interior Community Services in Kamloops which is a Good Food Organization which means they are part of the other 105 organizations in Canada that are fighting for a healthy and fair food system. We chose to focus on the ‘food literacy’ aspect of the Mount Paul Community Food Centre and attended two different food literacy classes they offered. The first was Foodie Friday and the second was Harvest to Home.
Foodie Friday is a program that allows members of the Kamloops community to come together every Friday morning to cook a meal. The first thirty minutes of Foodie Friday starts with coffee, tea and some light discussion. The leader gives a brief overview of what meal the group will be preparing that day and then the group gets to cooking. The remaining ninety minutes is made up of cooking, cleaning, and sitting down together to enjoy the meal.
The food centre describes Foodie Friday as “a weekly drop-in offered in order to connect with others in a welcoming and encouraging environment with a focus on food literacy and education” and that is exactly what the class is. During our time at the food centre, many of the attendees stated that the reason they come to Foodie Friday to socialize and cook with others and that it is mostly a social event for them. Cooking is always more enjoyable when you’re in good company, this is something the group of chefs at Mount Paul know and celebrate.
In the past, Foodie Friday was about how much food could be made and distributed but has since evolved into a social event that allows people from different backgrounds to come together to share their love of food.
Harvest to Home
The Harvest to Home program is how Mount Paul Community Food Centre combats food waste while giving back to the community. Every Monday the Food Bank-run program, FoodSHARE, drops off several containers of food items donated by local grocery stores. Volunteers then sort the produce into categories of fresh or spoiled. The spoiled food is tossed into buckets which are then picked up by local farmers to use for compost or animal feed. Once all the produce has been sorted, Mount Paul allows volunteers to each take home some of the fresh produce, leftovers are then sliced, chopped, prepared, and stored in a freezer to use for future programming.
Harvest to Home not only gives back to the community but also teaches volunteers the difference between food that is still fresh and food that is inedible. All the food donated is “expired”, meaning that it cannot be sold in stores, but this doesn’t mean it should be thrown away. Mount Paul has found a way to combat food waste by not only providing fresh, healthy food to people in need but by educating people on what to do with food that is close to perishing and how to use it rather than sending it to the landfill.
In addition to the two classes described above Mount Paul offers several other food literacy programs such as culinary classes, the food sense program, community gardens, public produce, and educational gardens, most of which are free to the public.
At first glance, Mount Paul Community Food Centre comes across as a food assistance program but is so much more than that. This is a place where people can come together to celebrate food, socialize, learn something new, and give back to their community.
For more information on the Mount Paul Community Food Centre and how to volunteer or register for classes visit their Facebook page.