Dine Out Day Weekend 2013 is taking place at restaurants around the city from Sept. 20 to 22 in support of Fredericton Community Kitchens Inc.
By LORI GALLAGHER
WHETHER YOU HAVE A HANKERING FOR A BUCKET OF CHICKEN OR ARE INTERESTED IN A FINE DINING EXPERIENCE, YOU CAN EAT GUILT-FREE THIS WEEKEND KNOWING YOU’RE HELPING THE COMMUNITY.
More than 20 local restaurants are taking part in Dine Out Day Weekend 2013 from Sept. 20 to 22, with a percentage of sales going to support the Fredericton Community Kitchen.
Think of it as your meal helping to provide meals for those in need.
‘We serve more than 10,000 meals a month, three meals on weekdays and two meals on weekends,’ says Aimée Foreman, executive director of Fredericton Community Kitchens Inc. ‘And each weekday we also deliver over 100 meals out as part of our outreach program to the north side of the city.’ She notes that they’d like to be able to expand that outreach, to be able to help more people contending with food security.
‘At breakfast we serve about 40 meals, and at lunchtime and suppertime we’re well over 100. And in addition we serve the outreach meals,’ says Foreman. ‘That’s been fairly consistent since April.’ The clients at the community kitchen include residents of the men’s shelter, homeless individuals, people on social assistance and the working poor.
‘We serve a large population that would be on social assistance or would be working but would not be receiving what’s referred to as a living wage, so they may be at minimum wage or slightly above,’ she says. ‘When you look at what’s required to sustain a family, minimum wage isn’t sufficient to meet all your needs.’ Foreman says that in Fredericton we have the highest rental rate and the lowest vacancy rate in the province, which creates a perfect storm where some folks have to choose between paying rent, electricity bills, grocery tabs or extracurricular activity fees for their children.
‘We serve an overlapping client base with a number of the food banks,’ says Foreman. ‘It’s a bit of a misnomer when people think that someone is going to a food bank and accessing a hamper each month. Well, the food that’s in that hamper only lasts three or four days, so it really covers only a short window of that gap people need to fill in their homes, so they’re often supplementing with meals as well.’ They have clients that come every day, but they also have clients that come once a week or once a month as well, she says.
To be able to continue to provide the services they do in the community, the non-profit organization has to fundraise. One way they are doing this is through Dine Out Day Weekend.
Tim Sharpe, chair of fundraising and marketing for the Community Kitchen board of directors, encourages people to eat out and enjoy, knowing they’re helping others in the community.
‘By eating out, not only will it benefit us, it will benefit the restaurants,’ he says. ‘And benefit yourself as a paying customer because you know a percentage of your sales is going to the Community Kitchen, to help feed Fredericton’s hungry.’ A wide range of restaurants are taking part, and more are welcome to sign up.
‘It’s a wide spectrum,’ says Sharpe of the restaurants signed up. ‘There’s sure to be a restaurant for everyone.’ He wants people to know that by going out to eat this coming weekend at a participating restaurant, they will be making a difference in the community.
‘We are striving to make Dine Out Day Weekend the signature event of the Fredericton Community Kitchen,’ says Foreman. ‘The kitchen is 100 per cent reliant on community support for its operations. We receive zero funding from government, so this event is key to our remaining operational.’ It’s worth noting that the Community Kitchen is able to effectively operate maintaining costs as low as $2.50 for a nutritionally dense meal.
If you’re trying to decide on a restaurant and don’t have the list of participating restaur
ants with you or access to the Fredericton Community Kitchen website, look for the poster that tells you that restaurant is a proud supporter of the Dine Out Day Weekend 2013.
‘We know this weekend is coming off the celebration of the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival and people have been out and about, but we hope this incites them to go out one more time in September and enjoy the many restaurants the city has to offer,’ says Foreman. ‘And at the same time know that they’re supporting the kitchen
and our operations.’ After all, those operations are an important part of our community. ‘The Community Kitchen is crucial. When you consider we’re putting out more than 10,000 meals within the size of our population, it speaks volumes as to what the need is,’ says Foreman. ‘Although we’re a ‘clean’ city, we’re a ‘smart’ city, a ‘green’ city, food and security is a real issue in our community. We may not see it on every corner when we’re walking downtown, but it’s evidenced by the number of meals we’re providing.’ Sharpe adds, ‘Hunger knows no boundaries or class.’ To learn more about Dine Out Day Weekend 2013, and to decide where you should be eating this weekend, visit http://www.frederictoncommunitykitchen.com, check out Fredericton Community Kitchen on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Plan to eat out this weekend: Restaurants all over Fredericton are taking part in Dine Out Day Weekend 2013 from Sept. 20 to 22 in support of the Fredericton Community Kitchen. Aimee Foreman, executive director of Fredericton Community Kitchens Inc., and Tim Sharpe, chair of fundraising and marketing for the board of directors, encourage people to look for the posters proclaiming restaurants to be a proud supporter of the event when they go out to eat on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.