“John” had been a cook in his younger days and really loved creating new dishes. Over the last decade he found it difficult to keep a job because of his mental health. He has been living on social assistance now for quite some time and struggles to make ends meet.
John finds it difficult to be involved with social activities because of anxiety but often comes to the community kitchen and sits with a few other clients in the Streets to Homes office instead of participating in the large space of the Community Kitchen. In the periphery of the program, he had never become fully involved with any of the activities.
The Community Kitchen staff often overheard John talking about food and menu ideas with great enthusiasm. We decided to invite him to participate in the “Healthy Eating on a Budget” program which enabled peer facilitators with frequent experience of surviving with use of food bank items to share their recipes with the Community Kitchen.
John was excited about creating a recipe and suggested asking participants to make a list of items in their cupboard that they did not know how to use. From this list, he created a dish, and with the assistance of another volunteer, was able to present the recipe for the dish to the Community Kitchen Participants. His valuable knowledge and skills were acknowledged and he was able to share this with the community.