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Food, Love and Life – DEWC’s kitchen is dishing it out

By Genevieve Fuji Johnson

Most of us know what a great feeling it is to come home to a delicious and nutritious meal. Enjoying a well-balanced, carefully prepared, and tasty meal is one of life’s basic pleasures. Meal times are opportunities to feed our bodies vital nutrients. They can also be wonderful opportunities to sit down, relax, and reconnect with friends and family, which is essential for psychological and emotional wellness. Yet, so many individuals and families go without these basics of health and wellbeing. Every day at DEWC, we provide women and their children in the downtown eastside healthy meals in a relaxed and safe environment.

Our kitchen staff works tirelessly, preparing up to 15,000 nutrition-packed meals a month—breakfasts twice weekly, daily lunches, and special group dinners almost every night. The Chefs along with dedicated volunteers also prepare Thanksgiving and Christmas meals and a summertime BBQ picnic.

These are no “meat-and-two-veg” meals you might expect from a “soup” kitchen. Every meal is carefully planned, consisting of multiple and varied nutrients. Working with a tight budget and limited donations, the Chefs always look for creative ways to increase the nutritional content of the meals. A typical salad, always served with lunch, includes carrots, celery, red cabbage, green lettuce, raisins, and sunflower seeds. Dressings are made from scratch. The Chefs always choose brown over white rice. There’s always a serving of protein in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. These are among the healthiest meals you’ll find in the GVRD.

The meal program at DEWC is a daily and direct contribution to the lives of many women and children. It’s a direct line to their physical health, providing critical nutrients to boost immune systems. It also raises the spirits. Women come into the Centre often cold, tired, and hungry. The program alleviates some of the dire effects associated with poverty—malnutrition, persistent illnesses, and social isolation. It contributes to their physical and psychological vitality, helping them face challenges many of us cannot imagine. The love, life, and nutrients dished out at DEWC help women and children not only cope but thrive in extremely difficult conditions.

These meals are an amazing, daily feat, accomplished by creative, compassionate, and hardworking kitchen staff. As Trina puts it, she wants to share her love by feeding people who often go without. That love is a lifeline.