Providing warm meals on cold days

We give. We cook. We care. On Dec. 4, a group of eight Laurier students took this slogan to St. John’s Kitchen in Kitchener to provide meals to approximately 250 people.

“I had this idea in the back of my head to do cooking during the holidays for the homeless people,” said Lucas Lu, a third-year business student, who established the event.

After being approached by a homeless person following a night out with his friends, Lu considered how to make this idea a reality.

St. John’s Kitchen was suggested to Lu and his friends as a suitable venue to provide meals to those in need.

The group created a Facebook event calling for donations or any means of help Laurier students could provide. With the initial fundraising goal of $300, Lu was astounded by the final outcome, which was over double this amount.

“This effort, this contribution from all the generous Laurier students made this whole thing happen,” said Lu.

Students provided monetary donations, made holiday greeting cards and provided food products to be prepared for the event.

A total of $856 was raised to purchase 100 lbs of beef, 97 lbs of pork, 80 bags of chips, granola bars, 50 litres of ice cream, hot chocolate, iced tea and juice.

“Everyone was so grateful because roast beef and ice cream are two items they don’t usually provide because it’s expensive,” explained Lu.

The lunch was prepared and distributed by Lu, Catherine Horrigan, Sean Gallaghar, Andrew Moores, Kristen George, Jacqueline Chan, Aeron Lawrence, Kyle Martin, Scott Cherry and Keeley Philips.

The abundance of food resulting from the fundraising efforts of the students was noted by Gretchen Jones, a cook at St. John’s. “Nobody heard the word ‘no,’ ‘you can’t have more,’ ‘you have to wait until the end.’ People were served unconditionally,” she said.

The volunteers were also encouraged to line up and receive a part of the meals they were handing out. “It gives you the opportunity to be at the same level as the people you serve,” said Lu.

“It’s something that really changes your perspective,” he added.

The students’ willingness to participate and interact with the volunteers and patrons was appreciated.

“They were just the most amazing group of young people and they really got it, they really got our philosophy,” said Jones.

Future projects haven’t been determined as of yet; however, Lu expressed the desire to make it an annual event. The long-term sustainability of St. John’s was also an area Lu is considering helping with.

“What happens when you provide one dinner or one lunch it only provides the problem for that one day, you want something [to help] on a continuous basis, generating a much bigger impact,” explained Lu.

“Food is a right, not a gift.”

St. John’s Kitchen

A division of The Working Centre, a non-profit venture that provides tools and opportunities for people to get involved in the building of community projects in Kitchener-Waterloo.
– The meal program is run by 160 volunteers.
– Provides up to 300 meals per day, free shower and laundry facilities, psychiatric outreach and job placement opportunities.
– Many of those who use their services suffer from physical and mental health issues.
– Approximately 200,000 pounds of food are prepared or distributed every year.
– The marketplace distributes food to be taken home to prepare, provided by the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.