Shelbourne Community Kitchen says a new off-site food storage space has made a world of difference in its ability to serve community members in need. (Facebook/Shelbourne Community Kitchen)

Shelbourne Community Kitchen says a new off-site food storage space has made a world of difference in its ability to serve community members in need. (Facebook/Shelbourne Community Kitchen)

Food storage extends reach of Saanich community kitchen

Demand grows 200 per cent during pandemic

For many Victorians, food storage isn’t top of mind, but for the Shelbourne Community Kitchen, it’s made a world of difference.

The Shelbourne food security charity – often called, ‘The Kitchen’ – connects Saanich members in need with nutritious meals through its Pantry Program, an initiative that’s continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But the organization – a collaborative effort of three Shelbourne Valley churches – has struggled to find food storage solutions, especially as demand grows.

“The pandemic has worsened the situation for families and individuals already struggling with food insecurity,” said Clarice Dillman, Shelbourne Community Kitchen board chair. “Since the introduction of COVID restrictions we have added 230 people to our client list – an increase of 200 per cent.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19 threatens the food security of millions of Canadians

The Kitchen was relying on small household fridges and freezers to store food in a small bungalow until the Lutheran Church of the Cross opened up its lower floor – increasing the capacity to process and store dry goods as well as fresh and frozen foods.

The Kitchen was able to switch its model from in-house food pick-up to delivery and walk-up window service, expanding the reach of its meals.

“We would not have been able to accomplish this without increased capacity at the new facility.”

The new facility was made possible through donations and in-kind services from local contractors and businesses, Dillman said, adding that additional renovations are still needed to meet increasing demands. Donations can be made online at shelbournecommunitykitchen.ca.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria food banks ask public for financial donations during COVID-19 pandemic