The offering of food is integral to St. John’s Kitchen. For thirty years, meals at St. John’s Kitchen have brought people together to work, find nourishment, and be a part of a community. Each day around 20 volunteers, many of whom also access other supports in the space, work together to prepare food for around 300 people.
Food is offered at St. John’s Kitchen in the following ways:
- Continental style breakfast every morning (self-serve breads, jams, coffee, and tea).
- Hot meal every day from 11:30 – 1:00, with flexibility. Vegetarian option available.
- Meals to Go offered when available.
- Coffee and Tea available all day.
The bulk of the food prepared and served at St. John’s Kitchen is provided through the Food Bank. Many generous amounts are also donated by individuals and businesses. Items that cannot be obtained from the food bank, such as sugar and flour, are bought in bulk.
Values that underpin the serving and receiving of food at St. John’s Kitchen include respect, dignity, and equality. People receive the food they ask for – a vegetarian option is always available, serving sizes are as large as people want, and people’s choices to have the whole meal or just a portion of it (such as dessert) are respected. Everyone stands in line together to receive food, and sits down together to eat.
Sharing a meal is a celebration, and this is honoured at St. John’s Kitchen. Sometimes there is live music during the meal. Other times, local community groups are invited to host meals using their own recipes. Occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are marked by special meals.
Taking Care of Other Basic Needs:
Beyond food, St. John's Kitchen offers a safe and trusted place for people to take care of other basic needs such as shelter from the elements, clothing, hygiene, medical care, and communications.
Resources and facilities available to everyone at St. John’s Kitchen include:
• Personal items (including feminine hygiene products, soap, laundry detergent, razors)
• Phone, faxing, photocopying
• Medical clinic
When people are able to meet their basic needs, this has significant positive impacts on their overall health, ability to live free from crime, and housing stability. Many people who gather at St. John’s Kitchen live on a limited income, and the resources offered at St. John’s Kitchen are essential for their wellbeing.
Workers at St. John’s Kitchen facilitate the preparation and serving of food, and support the community who gather in the space. Relationship-based work means that staff get to know who people are, and how best to support each person. Workers offer conversation and friendship, and when needed, support navigating medical, financial, and housing supports both within St. John’s Kitchen and in the wider community.
Workers at St. John’s Kitchen are a part of its community, and serve the people of the community. Within this approach there are no formal rules or policies. There is continual conversation around values, and an ongoing process of evolution as needs shift over time. Core elements of this approach are listening, following each person as a whole person, and responding flexibly to needs that arise.
Other Supports Offered in Cooperation with Community Partners:
A variety of supports at St. John’s Kitchen are offered in cooperation with other local agencies. These community partners base services at St. John’s Kitchen in order to meet the people they serve in a place where they are already gathering, and where a foundation of trust exists.
Local projects basing structured time at St. John’s Kitchen each week include:
- ACCKWA (support for people impacted by HIV, Safepoint Needle Program)
- Sanguen (support for people impacted by Hepatitis C, Safepoint Needle Program)
- KDCHC (once-a-week drop-in clinic for ID, nurse practitioners, chiropodist)
- Specialized Outreach Services (partnership between CMHA, Stonehenge, and St. John’s Kitchen; includes peer outreach worker from Stonehenge, nurse, psychiatric nurses, social worker)
- Psychiatric Outreach Project and Primary Care Clinic
- Financial Inclusion Outreach (support for people to manage their finances, through The Working Centre’s Money Matters project)