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Spring Gillard
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Communities are Really Cooking

I love potlucks. My pocket market team just had one as a windup for the pocket markets we were running this summer. As one of our crew said, potlucks with foodies are always the best. The food was phenomenal, but just try saying pocket market potluck five times.

There is a resurgence of potlucks and community meals happening everywhere. In my community, Kits Neighbourhood House has a monthly potluck. Village Vancouver, a group that networks neighbours, has regular potlucks too. People are sharing the bounty of their gardens, buying food together in clubs, cooking and canning together. And community kitchens are springing up like, well, potlucks.

A community kitchen is a program that brings people together to plan and prepare meals. Participants take home several meals at the end of the session. Each community kitchen is unique. Some offer meal planning, nutritional education or skill building. Some are for canning and preserving. All have a social focus.

The community kitchen movement has been building throughout North America since the early 1990s. It was born in Peru in the early 70s. The comedores populares were a response to an extreme economic crisis and worsening poverty brought on by a perfect storm of events, at the eye of which was “restructuring” by the International Monetary Fund.

A local group called Fresh Choice Kitchens is the community kitchen resource for all of British Columbia. They operate under the umbrella of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Fresh Choice creates and collects educational tools and shares them through workshops, in print and online. It supports individuals and community groups who want to run a kitchen. They also have an on-line directory to locate a community kitchen near you; the one in my hood is at the Kitsilano Community Centre. For those of you outside BC, just google around. Or, dust off the crockpot and throw a potluck.

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