Food nourishes our bodies, friendships, families, and community and therefore here at Strathcona Community Centre, it is a cornerstone of our programming.
Thank you to all of our participants, volunteers, and sponsors for their continual support and generosity that make the programs possible. For more information on the various food programs and to volunteer or donate, please contact Lauren Brown, our Food Security Coordinator at 604.713.1839 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Food Security Program at the Strathcona Community Centre is a hub for food and community leadership. It is a place where Strathcona residents come together, share their gifts, build community, and expand upon their experiences and skills. Below are some highlights. Please see the seasonal program brochure for up to date program opportunities and registration details.
The Breakfast Program welcomes students of Lord Strathcona Elementary School every weekday morning before school and summer programs. It was started in the late 90's by Linda Murota, a local parent who volunteered in the school cafeteria and observed how hungry some of the children were during the school day. How could they focus and participate in class with nothing in their stomachs? In the early days, Linda arranged to use the kitchen and room space at the community centre and ran the program as a volunteer cooking food using her personal funds. Over the years, the Breakfast Program has become an established healthy morning tradition that serves up to 150 breakfasts each day.
The Backpack Program is a weekend healthy snack program for local families with children who have barriers to accessing food. The Backpack Program started in 2010 with a small number of families. At that time, children brought home a backpack of food for the weekend supplied by the Food Bank.
Today, the Backpack Program has grown to also include fresh fruit and vegetables from local supplier, Fresh Direct Produce. Their longstanding generous contributions enable us to share healthy snacks with up to 350 children per week in a welcoming, friendly market-like environment.of families. At that time, children brought home a backpack of food for the weekend supplied by the Food Bank.
Lorraine Holubowich coordinates the Backpack Program with a focus on the wholeperson, their family, and the gifts that everyone has to offer. The program has become an umbrella of opportunities and inclusion for local families. Program expansions of the Backpack Program has created space for program members to make meaningful contributions, connect with their neighbours, build further capacity, develop confidence and broaden employment possibilities. These expansions include: a community kitchen, tasting booths, access to farm and market trips, access to training and skill-building opportunities and a member-led Backpack Leadership Committee commencing in 2015. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Backpack Program, please complete the application which is available at the Community Centre's front desk.
The community kitchen programs offer opportunities for people to share knowledge and skills, gain leadership experience and get to know each other while preparing and eating delicious multicultural foods. Everyone takes turns leading the group through self-selected recipes which makes for a diverse menu. The community kitchen programs include:
- Cooking Fun for Families – a weekly cooking program for parents of students in the Lord Strathcona Elementary School. Referral to this program is through the school's Neighbourhood Assistant.
- Backpack Community Kitchen – a biweekly cooking program for parents enrolled in the Backpack Program. Space permitting, everyone is welcome to join.
- Summertime Community Kitchen – a weekly cooking program for everyone that spans July and August.
Please also look in the family and youth sections of the program brochure for other cooking opportunities.
Farm and Farmer's Market Trips
Each season, we run family-oriented trips to local farms and farmer’s markets. We welcome everyone to join us on these trips! They are a great opportunity to get to know your neighbours while exploring farmer’s market and farms around the city and the Fraser Valley. Farm trips include transportation to and from the community centre and a variety of family-friendly farm activities such as felting wool, visiting the animals, harvesting, making apple cider, preparing farm fresh food and enjoying a homemade meal.
Access to Training
At the start of 2013, the Strathcona Food Security Program implemented a pilot project of training opportunities for community kitchen participants and food program volunteers. Within its first year, this initiative enabled over 60 people to participate in training ranging from food safe and kitchen first aid to community kitchen leadership and train the trainer for canning. This training has given community members the confidence to take increasing leadership roles such as joining committees to help plan events, organizing their own cooking and social groups and gaining employment to support their families.
Nicole and Rejoice have been participating in food programs for a number of years. Through their experiences, access to training and connections developed within the food programs, they began assuming more leadership roles. In spring 2014, these women were hired to prepare healthy dinners for local families that attended the MEND family wellness program at the centre. After the MEND program ended, Nicole applied for and was awarded the newly vacant job of helping us maintain clean and functional kitchens at the community centre and Rejoice is preparing to re-enter the food industry while on call to run the Parents and Tots Drop-In at the community centre.