Providing nourishment for community building

We all know something special happens when people sit down together to share a meal. It’s a time-honoured way of welcoming guests, celebrating milestones and building relationships. Not surprisingly, sharing meals is also a key ingredient in making new members of our community feel welcomed.

Kinbrace is a community organization that welcomes refugee claimants with housing, education and support. They work to inspire transformative communities where refugee claimants and Canadians flourish together. Approximately 40 refugee claimants pass through East Vancouver’s Kinbrace community annually on a journey from homelessness on arrival in Canada to long-term housing in Metro Vancouver and beyond. A big part of the warm and personal welcome Kinbrace provides is delivered through weekly group dinners and other regular gathering events. “The gift of food prepared and eaten together is hard to quantify,” says Loren Balisky, Director of Engagement at Kinbrace. “There is a mystery, a goodness, a profound sense of belonging and dignity that emerges when strangers from around the world gather to share delicious food in a spirit of trust and mutual transformation.”

Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House’s approach to community development is founded on being an inclusive and accessible space where people can feel at home, connect with a wider community and share their skills and strengths through community-led programs, projects and initiatives. An essential place in which they do this is in the neighbourhood house kitchen. “The kitchen is a sacred space,” says Thanh Lam, Manager, Youth and Newcomer Services at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood house. “Beyond being a physical meeting point, the kitchen is where both tangible and intangible connections are forged across cultures, languages and lived experiences.” Food preparation and group meals allow MPNH to welcome newcomers and forms part of their settlement and integration journey in a way that honours their strengths, includes them as community members, and provides a starting point to create meaningful relationships with others in the community.

In support of building community through the sharing of meals, Central City Foundation regularly provides grants to organizations such as Kinbrace and Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House to assist with the purchase of kitchen and meal preparation equipment. When you support Central City Foundation, you’re helping to provide a welcoming and supportive new start in our community for refugees and other immigrants.