Food creates community and confidence

Karen runs the Community Kitchen program at The Mustard Seed’s 1010 Centre.

Karen runs the Community Kitchen program at The Mustard Seed’s 1010 Centre.

Each Christmas when we sit around the table and share a meal with our family and friends, we experience the power food has to bring people together.

Karen Vine, an avid home cook and mother of four, understands that all too well. She’s on a mission to build relationships through food by running a Community Kitchen program at The Mustard Seed’s 1010 Centre.

“We often live separate, lonely lives. Food is a way to connect,” says Karen.

The 1010 Centre is one of The Mustard Seed’s mortgage retirement projects in the RESOLVE Campaign. The Community Kitchen is one of the supports tenants can access to improve health, nutrition, life skills and community building.

Each class offers up to six residents the opportunity to take part in a cooking lesson with Karen. At individual work stations, they prepare two main courses that make four to six meals they can take home to enjoy later. After the lesson, they share a third course together.

The first session was in September. They cooked shepherd’s pie, chicken divan and a beef tortilla pie. “It was magical, sharing life and swapping stories,” Karen says.

During the meal, one person opened up about a painful life experience. Others chimed in with words of support and encouragement and shared their own stories.

“I was moved. It was a profound moment, and it wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t in that setting.”

Karen’s ultimate goal is to instill confidence within tenants to build community for themselves through their food skills. “I want them to feel that they have what they need to nourish their bodies as well as their souls.”