Meals for thought: Educating kitchen in plans at Moncton meals centre

Chantal Senecal is the executive director of the Peter McKee Community Food Centre and hopes the centre’s teaching kitchen will be able to open in the spring. (Kate Letterick/CBC)The Peter McKee Community Food Centre in Moncton is edging closer to completing a community teaching kitchen after receiving $40,000 from the province Monday.

Gabrielle Johnson, who has used the food bank and volunteers her time there, says the community kitchen will help people with ingredients they might not know how to handle.

“One time we had an abundance of bananas, people were like — they didn’t know,” said Johnson, who has six children, four of them at home. “So we printed out recipes to give people ideas.

“So the kitchen is definitely going to make a difference because a lot of the produce that we have, we’re going to be preparing it there and … letting them know different things they can make … to stretch the dollar they can freeze items — different things like that.”

3 goals for kitchen

Executive director Chantal Senecal said the plan is to build a large commercial-style kitchen with three goals in mind, the first being to educate people about food preparation.

Gabrielle Johnson volunteers at the community food centre, along with being a client. (Kate Letterick/CBC)“We want to teach people young and old how to cook meals, how to cook healthy nutritious meals, how to make their food last,” said Senecal. “So we’re looking into casseroles and things like that, where you can stretch out maybe the less expensive produce and things like that.

“So it really goes back down to educating people on what to do with the food they’re able to get.”

Senecal said the kitchen will also be used to train people for employment in areas such as food safety, preparation and dish washing.

The kitchen will also help clients deal with food waste by teaching canning and preparing jams and preserves.

$300,000 cost

The teaching kitchen is expected to cost between $250,000 and $300,000. Senecal said it’s part of a larger capital campaign launched in September with a goal of $1 million. Almost $900,000 has been raised so far.

Senecal hopes the funding will be in place to open the kitchen in the spring.

The food centre helps 1,500 low-income families in the Moncton area and includes a community garden and on-site thrift store.

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