The Rainbow Kitchen: So much more than food!

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Through no fault of their own, people can find themselves in dire circumstances and begin to lose hope.  There is a place in Esquimalt where people can find hope while they rebuild their lives.  It’s a place where everyone is welcome.  When you arrive at the Rainbow Kitchen, you can get a great home-cooked meal every day, you could get your taxes done by a friendly and helpful expert, and in the Fall they would remind you to get your flu shot – and bring the pharmacy staff in to make sure you got it done?

You could celebrate your birthday, get married here, or you could host a funeral. You could have free cooking lessons any day of the week from the dedicated chefs turning out the delicious meals.

Already a great cook? You could up your game by completing your Food Safe training, for free. You could learn about sustainable food production by helping out in the garden used by the volunteer chefs as a source for the great food they prepare.

That’s the Rainbow Kitchen. The facts are these.

  • 2016-07-31_09-04-45The Rainbow Kitchen has been operating for 15 years and serves 36,000 meals a year with the help of more than 200 volunteers.
  • With an annual budget of about $100,000, the Kitchen is feeding the hungry in our community at a cost of under $3 a meal.
  • The Kitchen provides a nutritious, tasty hot lunch to more than 100 people daily, Monday through Friday, 50 weeks of the year.
  • Gifts in kind food donations are estimated to be at least $200,000 annually.  Most of the food served is donated by generous and faithful corporate “partners”.  They provide the Rainbow Kitchen with meat, fish, fresh vegetables, bread, canned goods, dry goods, and coffee.

But those numbers don’t tell the real story.

The Rainbow Kitchen is the heart of a community, made up of volunteers and guests, and many people who are both.   Here are a few examples of the kinds of services the Rainbow Kitchen is able to provide with the help of our generous community:

  • This past fall, 30 guests attended the Heart Pharmacy’s flu shot clinic for Rainbow Kitchen guests.
  • During the 2015 income tax season, an accountant volunteered one day a week for six weeks to help guests prepare their income tax returns.
  • Several Rainbow Kitchen guests are also clients of Pacifica Housing.  The Rainbow Kitchen Manager works cooperatively with the Pacifica Housing counsellor to coordinate caring for a number of Rainbow Kitchen guests who are also clients of Pacifica Housing. Pacifica Housing provides supported housing to individuals who are formerly, or at risk of being, homeless.
  • Victoria and Esquimalt Police Department community liaison officers regularly visit the Rainbow Kitchen.  Their presence helps to reinforce that the Rainbow Kitchen is a safe place for guests and volunteers.  Twice a year they host a neighbourhood meeting at the Rainbow Kitchen, which is attended by nearby neighbours, guests, and volunteers.

Director of Operations Gigi McKee explains it best.  She tells me that “the Rainbow Kitchen is an opportunity for connection, encouragement and kindness. Healthy bodies and minds not only need healthy food, they also need healthy, strong and meaningful social interactions.


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