Phoenix Society’s Mobile Community Kitchen officially hit the road this week to serve free meals to those in need.
The program operates out of a 16-foot food truck, dubbed Phoenix Flame BBQ, providing free community meals to those who are underserved, homeless or at risk of homelessness. The operation has capacity serve up to 100 meals per day (lunch or dinner) up to fives times per week.
The food truck made its first stop on Wednesday (Jan. 20) at SHARE Society’s Port Moody food bank, serving roughly 100 clients as they picked up their food hampers. Pulled pork sandwiches, beef chili and a penne pasta was on the menu during the first day of meal service, and Phoenix’s food truck will return to the food bank this month on Jan. 27.
Next up, in February, food service will begin on select days at the Surrey Food Bank’s main distribution site in Newton.
Further partnerships are in the works with front-line social service agencies in the City of Surrey to serve hot meals to those who are unhoused and living in shelters, and Phoenix Society encourages the public to get in touch with us on our social media channels to tell us where else our free meals may be needed.
“It’s incredible to see this project get underway, and to see the overwhelming support behind it,” said Keir Macdonald, CEO of Phoenix Society. “Everyone deserves a hot meal and we are thrilled to be able to help feed those in need during what is a very hard time for us all. Giving back and building community, connection and hope is what we are all about at Phoenix.”
Phoenix Society’s Head Chef Prem Singh (pictured below) explains: “The project came about due to the desire to serve hot meals to those who are vulnerable in the community, but also to provide employment opportunities to residents in recovery here at Phoenix.”
A resident training and employment program is expected to get underway later this year.
The main goal of the Phoenix food truck project is to provide meals to hard-to-reach populations that may not be able to access food, which is particularly important in the winter months and amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phoenix’s Mobile Community Kitchen has the ability to meet those in need where they are at, serving food in safe, single-use recyclable containers in a outdoor setting where the guests can more easily physically distance. Food served in the mobile kitchen will be prepared in Phoenix’s commercial grade kitchen that receives regular inspections from Fraser Health Authority.
“SHARE Society is so grateful to be partnering with Phoenix Society on this creative project!” said Claire MacLean, CEO of SHARE Society. “For SHARE, the Food Bank is about more than just food. We offer free early childhood programs for families, support our community members in accessing other important services, and provide social opportunities for our seniors. The opportunity to work with Phoenix to provide a safe, fun food experience for our community members is so appreciated. For more information on SHARE’s Food Bank, including how you can access our services and how you can support the program, please go to www.sharesociety.ca.”
The Surrey Food Bank is very excited to partner with the Phoenix Society on this wonderful initiative,” said Feezah Jaffer, Executive Director of Surrey Food Bank. “It speaks to the spirit of collaboration and caring that we share, the work being done to serve those facing life’s greatest challenges, and how we can come together to support those in need in our communities. We look forward to having the Phoenix Flame BBQ food truck on site and for our clients to experience this new project.”
The new program launches during an alarming period in which unhoused individuals are experiencing lower access to food programs due to the pandemic, during the parallel illicit drug overdose crisis that took more than 1,500 lives in B.C. last year.
Food programs were identified as the most accessed service (60 per cent) by those surveyed as part of the 2020 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count. However, in many cases throughout the communities we serve, drop-in centres, churches, and other gathering places that offer food services have either had to reduce capacity, operating hours – or close completely – due to a lack of infrastructure, supplies or staffing to effectively serve those in need amidst the pandemic.
A Mobile Outreach Service program will run alongside the Mobile Community Kitchen and will involve the distribution of emergency kits including hygiene items, gift cards for crisis intervention (transit passes, groceries, etc.), non-perishable food and other essential items.
Phoenix Society would like to thank the many generous sponsors and funding partners that have helped make this project possible including the Envision Financial Community Endowment with First West Foundation, Reaching Home and the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society. We acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia.
“First West Foundation, through its Envision Financial Community Endowment, is thrilled to support Phoenix Society’s Mobile Community Kitchen” says Susan Byrom, executive director with First West Foundation. “Projects like this are so crucial to the most vulnerable in our society, particularly during the hard days of the pandemic when access to food has only become more scarce for those living in homelessness.”
“The Surrey Homelessness & Housing Society is so pleased to have provided a grant to Phoenix Society in support of this innovative and collaborative initiative!” said Surrey Homelessness & Housing Society Board Chair and Surrey Councillor Laurie Guerra. “The Phoenix Mobile Community Kitchen will certainly help fill some of the food service gaps created by the pandemic and bolster capacity to provide essential services to individuals who are unhoused or at-risk in our community.”
While the program’s launch and operations until March 31 are currently funded, Phoenix Society continues to explore other funding partners to ensure the continued operation of the free meal.
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