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Charity: The Rainbow Kitchen

May 1, 2013

Victoria Rainbow Kitchen logo

This month the charity that my wife, Katie, and I are sponsoring is the Victoria Rainbow Kitchen in Victoria, British Columbia. We chose to sponsor this charity because it’s another way to help support one of the cities that we love and hold dear to our hearts.

We asked the Rainbow Kitchen about their services and how they came about and this is what they had to say.

“The Rainbow Kitchen provides a nutritious, tasty hot lunch meal to approximately 140 people a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. That’s over 36,400 meals a year served in a safe and supportive environment to the poor and marginalized in the local community.

The Rainbow Kitchen started out in 2001 as one church community’s response to filling a need in their wider community for women and children who did not feel safe or comfortable going to downtown food services such as the Salvation Army or the Open Door. It evolved over time into a much broader multi-faith and secular community of volunteers, working together to serve a much broader community of people in need of food and fellowship.

Deborah Hunt, Treasurer, and Garth Walmsley, then President of the Rainbow Kitchen at the opening of the new location at Esquimalt United Church.

Deborah Hunt, Treasurer, and Garth Walmsley, then President of the Rainbow Kitchen at the opening of the new location at Esquimalt United Church.

People coming to the Rainbow Kitchen for lunch (referred to as guests, not clients) include street youth, seniors on low incomes, single parents, pre-school children, aboriginals, the unemployed, and individuals on social assistance or disability pensions. Some guests describe this meal as their “food security”, knowing they get a tasty nutritious meal with adequate protein, fresh vegetables and salad.

There are no paid staff, administrators or fundraisers – all work is done by 150+ volunteers, who include seniors, retired professionals, shift workers, students, stay-at-home moms and dads, unemployed trades people, individuals with physical and mental challenges.

None of the work of the Rainbow Kitchen would be possible without the dedication and commitment of these volunteers who show up week after week to plan meals, shop for groceries, pick up donated food, peel veggies, chop salads, build casseroles, set tables, serve meals, clear tables, wash dishes and all the little and big jobs that need to get done so the line-up of hungry people at the door know they are loved and valued as our brothers and sisters.

The Rainbow Kitchen has a reputation as being a safe, non-judgmental, and welcoming place for guests and volunteers alike where everyone is treated with respect and valued as “part of the family”. Members of the Victoria Police Department frequently volunteer – it’s quite a sight to see a police officer in uniform, complete with pistol in a holster on his/her hip, wearing an apron and hair net, serving meals to and chatting with the guests. This positive, friendly interaction with local police is an integral part of maintaining a Zero Tolerance Policy of abuse and harassment for everyone associated with the Rainbow Kitchen.

Constable Zeigler of the Victoria Police Department also volunteers at the Rainbow Kitchen.

Constable Zeigler of the Victoria Police Department also volunteers at the Rainbow Kitchen.

Many of the “regular guests” are seniors and persons with disabilities whose small incomes barely pay for their shelter requirements, leaving very little to buy food and other necessities. They are on their own without adequate social outlets and would live more lonely, isolated, less healthy lives without the Rainbow Kitchen as a safe and friendly place to come to for interaction with others, and to get a daily nutritious, hot meal. Throughout the year people who have lost their jobs or lost their business find temporary food and social support at the Rainbow Kitchen.

The vast majority of the food served is donated by some very generous and faithful corporate “partners” who provide the Rainbow Kitchen with meat, fish, fresh vegetables, bread, canned goods, dry goods, and coffee. Individuals also make food donations, including a couple who makes a very large apple crisp each week for dessert!

It takes more than food, equipment and volunteer labor to keep the Rainbow Kitchen open. It also takes cash to pay the rent, liability insurance, daily janitorial services, equipment repair and maintenance, telephone, office supplies, gas reimbursement costs, etcetera. The Rainbow Kitchen relies on individual donations and fundraising events. The Victoria Rainbow Kitchen Society is a registered charity and can issue charitable tax receipts. Donations can be made online at its website by clicking here!

In addition to all the wonderful volunteers that make the mission of the Rainbow Kitchen possible, many local groups contribute as well. One of those groups is the Rotary Club of Victoria who recently donated a new van appropriately named ‘Vanessa’.

The Rainbow Kitchen's Van named 'Vanessa' donated by the Rotary Club of Victoria

The Rainbow Kitchen’s Van named ‘Vanessa’ donated by the Rotary Club of Victoria

So now you might be asking yourself ‘How can I help?’ Here are some easy ways to be a part of this great project:

volunteer

»If you would like to volunteer they are always in need of people to cook, serve, clean, fund raise and more. Click Here to visit their volunteer page for more information.

»If you would like to donate something they are always in need of food or various material items. You can call them at 250-384-2069 for a current list of items that are urgently needed.

»If you would like to donate cash to help them buy food, pay for the rent, utilities and other supplies you can either mail a check payable to:

Victoria Rainbow Kitchen Society
500 Admirals Road
Victoria, B.C. V9A 2N4
 

»OR you can CLICK HERE to go to their secure online donation page. The Victoria Rainbow Kitchen Society is a registered charity and you will receive an official receipt for income tax purposes for donations of $10 and above.

You can also visit the Victoria Rainbow Kitchen’s Website by CLICKING HERE!

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