Parkwood and Hope House Two community organizations team up to execute weekly F.O.O.D Program
For lower income families living in the West End of Guelph, the F.O.O.D Program provides an important opportunity to connect with each other over a delicious, restaurant quality meal on a Saturday night.
For many families, going out to a restaurant and sharing a meal is an important chance to reconnect and enjoy an evening together. Too often, lower income families and those struggling with food insecurity miss out on the important opportunity to go out, engage with their community, share a delicious meal, and connect with their families and loved ones. If there is a chance to go out, less nutritious meals and fast food are often much more affordable.
In 2021, Parkwood Gardens Neighborhood Group and Hope House teamed up to provide up to forty five families with free, restaurant quality, delicious and nutritious meals once a week. The F.O.O.D program gives families the opportunity to connect with diverse, healthy food, and with each other. The program also provides an opportunity for families to try foods they’ve never tried before due to price. All the meals are Halal, so all families can participate regardless of dietary needs or restrictions.
The meals are cooked by Hope House Community Chef Kay every Friday in the Hope House kitchen, and Parkwood facilitates distribution of the meals on Saturdays at two different locations, as well as oversees a delivery option. The partnership between organizations has allowed the program to be streamlined to increase efficiency and allow for more families to try more foods, for free.
“Chef Kay and Hope House helped to reshape the program. Large scale batch cooking was difficult to manage, so having Chef Kay’s restaurant and industrial kitchen experience has been a huge help! Working with Kay provides background knowledge, community partnerships, and relationships with grocers.”
– Chelsey, Parkwood Gardens Neighborhood Groups
While this program is open to all families in Guelph, it prioritizes families in the west end. The west end of Guelph faces additional challenges of food insecurity because it is a food desert. A lack of suitable infrastructure and poor public transit design has made it difficult for individuals and families who don’t have cars to access the groceries they need, at the prices they can afford. The design of the west end isolates neighborhoods from easily accessing grocery stores and other food distributors.
Currently, the F.O.O.D Program produces two hundred and fifty meals every single week for twenty families. Each week, families can select one meat dish, one vegetable dish, and one dessert per person in the household through their new website, which looks and feels exactly like a food delivery app. At every opportunity, this program aims to provide free food with dignity.
“My family and I thank you for your delicious meal and your incalculable help. Today the food was much tastier and mouth watering. Actually we are international and feel like homemade food with the real taste of all the dishes. Your dessert is always flavorsome. It’s really incomparable. We give special thanks to the people who serve at Parkwood and prepare meals tastier and tastier day by day.”
– F.O.O.D Program Participant
Ultimately, the F.O.O.D Program ensures that all families can feel more integrated in the community, and makes sure that no one is being left out of an important experience that many other families have the opportunity to have on a Saturday night.