Feeding families a priority for West Shore churches

Hot meals complement Goldstream Food Bank work in West Shore area

Matt Parker preps the pot for a community dinner slated for Sept. 25 at Gordon United Church. He’s part of just one church group coming together to sustain families with food

A patio barbecue, weather permitting, will mark the first community dinner at Gordon United Church.

A few faith communities are coming together to offer a couple different choices in a family dinner option on the West Shore.

Matt Parker, of West Village Church is among the 15 to 20 people who were in search of a way to offer something back to the community.

“We’ve been looking for a way to serve,” Parker said. They’ve taken on the meal hosting it at Langford’s Gordon United Church where the people have been “gracious and supportive”.

“There’s nowhere else that serves a meal regularly free of charge,” he said.

Another West Village Church group started a Sooke meal program at the start of summer, providing a strong template for the West Shore group. This crew offered a few barbecues at Ruth King elementary this summer.

The goal is to “provide a meal, but also a community,” Parker said.

Community is also key to another group offering meal and companionship once a month at Lighthouse Christian Academy.

The Open Gate Church will offer a free full meal the first Wednesday of each month, starting in October, at Lighthouse Christian Academy. After dinner, organizers say babies can head to the nursery, dad’s can get grubby with sports and crafts with kids while moms can hang out together.

“The whole idea is to be a support and encouragement for moms,” said Chris Zoephel, lead pastor. “There’s a lot of single moms that are working and there seem to be a lot of things during the day. They’re not getting a lot of time together as a family to eat.”

 

He sees it as an opportunity for families to come a healthy meal and stay for connection with kids, or other parents.

 

“Plus I think there’s some hidden poverty in Langford that’s not talked about,” Zoephel said. “It could be a huge blessing for families.”

Parker agrees, seeing them want to fill emotional, physical and spiritual needs.

“We want to meet those all in some way. We have a heart for young families for sure,” he said. “There’s a lot of low income people living paycheque to paycheque. We want to go above Wonderbread and PB and J.”

It will fill a need too with more and more homeless staking a place in the Western Communities said the president of Goldstream Food Bank Society.

“Everybody thinks of the homeless on the downtown streets of Victoria, but they’re out this way too,” said Gayle Ireland, who also serves as co-ordinator of volunteers for the local food bank. “They’re living out in the bush quietly … they’re in the bush and they’re camping out.”

The Goldstream Food Bank served more than 10,000 people last year including 32 per cent children.

“But it’s all groceries, it’s not a hot meal program,” Ireland said. “I think it’s a very good complement to the community.”

Parker figures they’ll start with twice a month with plans to grow.

“It would be awesome by the end of the year to see it happening every week,” he said.

The first meal was Sept. 25. The next is Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. at Gordon United Church, 935 Goldstream Ave. The Open Gate Church meals are the first Wednesday of the month, starting with October through December from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Lighthouse Christian Academy, 1289 Parkdale Dr.

 

“I know that we get a lot of calls about the Christmas dinner at the Our Lady of the Rosary church every year and it’s packed,” Ireland said. “Once the program gets established I’m sure that a lot of people will make good use of it.”

 

 

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