A future commercial kitchen and food programming space at the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society’s (SCCSS) proposed housing project at 5638 Inlet Ave. received a cash injection of $250,000 from the Community Gaming Grants capital projects program.
It and five other community organizations, including the Potluck Café Society in Vancouver and Cranbrook Food Bank Society, received more than $1.13 million from the capital grant program to assist with food security.
In total, 53 non-profits received a total of $5 million in community gaming grants, with more projects expected to be announced in coming days, according to a Jan. 19 news release.
Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne said during the announcement over Zoom that the grant eligibility rules were revised in the wake of COVID-19 to prioritize requests from organizations facing an increased demand for services.
SCCSS executive director Catherine Leach said the grant will be used to incorporate a commercial kitchen into the society’s redevelopment project, “creating a place where people can come together around food, to connect, learn new skills and improve their health.”
Leach described the grant as a “game changer” for people struggling with poverty and food insecurity in the community. The organization has seen increased demand for food bank services and prepared meals during the pandemic, and the organization responded with increased food programing.
The new kitchen and space will be a “safe and welcoming place for community members to gather, build connections and establish a strong peer support network,” she said. The society anticipates 1,400 people per month will use the space once built.
Leach said the first two floors of the redevelopment will be for the community. “Everyone is welcome and that includes the commercial kitchen and the programming that will take place in that space,” she said.
The organization expects the kitchen to be up and running by summer 2023.
Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons said the funding “will have a direct and positive impact for many people on the lower coast.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has driven home the importance of community supports like those the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society provides, and how crucial it is to keep investing in them,” he said.