Fish and chips was a special meal served at St. Mary's Kerrisdale (Liz Cullen photo)
The community meal at St. Mary's Kerrisdale began as a pilot project in 2001. Very quickly, it became an ongoing bi-weekly offering, and for the past three years, it has been a weekly event, at which some 60 to 90 people are served a hot, nutritious meal.

We are often asked about the need for a free meal being offered in an affluent part of the city. Originally, the parish thought that lonely seniors from the neighbourhood would be our guests.

Yes, there were seniors, but there were also the homeless and hungry from nearby and farther afield, people on fixed income who were having difficulty making ends meet, single mums with kids, and those who were suffering physical or mental health issues and were looking for a good hot meal and some friendly human contact.

That mix of people has continued over the years, and it is a hallmark of the program. One of our guests once joked with us about our lunchtime providing him with a "Kerrisdale moment", but we have learned that "need" is not confined to just the obvious areas of poverty in the Lower Mainland.

Local merchants have supported us with money and in-kind donations; we applied for and received a grant from a local bank; a sports fisherman even donated over 75 pounds of halibut and, to our guests' delight, we served home-made fish and chips!

A fundraising event was also a real success - apart from raising money, it also raised awareness of the need for such a program, even in a place like Kerrisdale.

It takes many volunteers to provide a hot meal every week, and we were surprised to discover our food ministry can draw people from the wider community who want a meaningful volunteer experience but who don't "go to church". Of our 90-plus volunteers, many are not St. Mary's parishioners, but most would still call St. Mary's "my church".

Many parishes across our diocese provide food ministry in their local communities. Some have emergency food cupboards; some are recognized Food Bank outlets; some provide a meal - sandwiches for takeaway or a hot lunch or dinner; some provide advocacy assistance; some provide meal preparation training for at-risk or disabled youth or adults.


Katherine Jang of St. Clement, North Vancouver, with food she collected during the "Christmas in July" Vancouver Food bank drive. The parish together gathered 12 boxes after distributing flyers in St. Clement's neighbourhood. Katherine collected the most. (Wilna Parry photo)

Rising food costs in our communities mean that food ministries are becoming more and more taxed. With 2010 upcoming, the expectations are that issues of homelessness, hunger and food security will continue to grow.

Some of those who already provide a ministry are wondering how they can keep up with increased demand. Some are wishing to expand their programs. Some who would like to begin a program are unsure where to start. Some who have successful programs are willing to share tips and strategies.

A workshop being offered in November hopes to bring together all those in the diocese who are currently offering a food ministry, or who would like to find out more about food ministry. The aim of the workshop is to gather information, and network.

Food Ministry Workshop

Saturday, Nov. 1, 9 am - 12:30 pm, St. Laurence, Coquitlam. 

Registration is necessay, via Carol Simpson, 604 684-6306 ext. 212, preferably via

Visit the Calendar section on this site to find topics for break-out groups for you to choose from. Hard copy announcement will be in the Sep. 26th parish mail. This workshop is organized by volunteers for volunteers!