A local charity is expanding its Mobile Meals program.
The Cloverdale Community Kitchen (CCK) is filling a gap that recently opened up when White Rock Meals On Wheels told its customers it was closing its doors.
Matthew Campbell, the director of CCK, said the surge in demand has created a surge in need for both volunteers and donations.
“When we heard the White Rock Meals On Wheels program was shutting down, we contacted them to figure out how we could take on their clients,” said Campbell. “They’d been running for 51 years, so we knew we had to do something.”
Campbell said White Rock’s food contractor notified them they were increasing their prices from $7.75 per meal to $14.
“They couldn’t pass on the $14 charge to their clients,” he said. “A lot of fixed-income seniors would not be able to afford the new cost. They were also struggling to find enough volunteers, so combine the two, and they made the hard decision that they had to shut down.”
Campbell said he sat down with his team and they decided they couldn’t leave the seniors in the White Rock-South Surrey area without any meals.
“They depend on this program,” he explained. “So we contacted all the seniors that were receiving White Rock Meals On Wheels and let them know that we will serve them.”
Campbell said CCK’s Mobile Meals serves 130 seniors five meals four times a week in the Cloverdale, Langley, and Surrey areas. They deliver two meals on Thursdays so the seniors also have a meal for Friday. Adding in the White Rock numbers, the Cloverdale Community Kitchen will eventually be serving nearly 200 clients per week.
With the increase in demand comes an increase in the need for equipment and an increase in the need for volunteers—both those to help in the kitchen prepping the meals and those to help deliver meals.
He added they already have three drivers delivering some meals into the South Surrey-White Rock area, but when they add in those 60 new clients they’ll need more drivers.
“We’re going to need about four more drivers per night to go to White Rock,” said Campbell. “In addition to that, we’re going to need more volunteers to help pack meals and help in the kitchen.”
With their own kitchen, CCK can produce meals at a much lower rate than an outside company. Seniors with CCK’s Mobile Meals program pay $6 per meal and that cost will also be extended to their new White Rock clients.
“They’ll be getting a bit of a discount.”
Campbell said “great volunteers” help keep the costs low at the Kitchen.
“We probably have about 250 people per month that help out with Mobile Meals,” he added. “We’re adding 50 per cent to our workload, so we’ll need to increase our volunteers by 50 per cent.”
They’ll start delivering to the White Rock area the first week of November.
He added with the increase in the number of clients comes an increase in the cost of their overhead.
“By the time you take in cost of wear and tear on the kitchen, all the new containers that we need to purchase—individual containers and transport containers—and food, the cost is a lot more than the $6 we charge the clients. So we depend on financial donations above the $6 that people pay.”
Campbell said if people want to donate they can visit their website or they can call the Community Kitchen. He said people can make donations specifically to Mobile Meals or it can be specific to the new White Rock arm of Mobile Meals.
If anyone is thinking about volunteering or has questions about it, they can contact the Kitchen’s director of Mobile Meals, Mandeep Kooner.
“Mandeep is one of our secrets around here,” Campbell explained. “He loves and cares for the volunteers that come and do this. He organizes everything. When the drivers come to pick up the meals, he has free drinks for them, sometimes he hands out free meals, so they have something to eat when they get home. He really spends a lot of time thinking about and caring for our volunteers.”
CCK started their Mobile Meals program two years ago as COVID hit.
“We knew a lot of the seniors wouldn’t be able to get out, but now we realize there was a lot of hidden need behind the scenes. So it’s going to be an ongoing program for us to meet the needs of seniors, and especially as the population around here and in White Rock ages.”
The Cloverdale Community Kitchen can be found online by visiting mycck.ca. They can be reached via telephone at 778-617-3000 or by email via at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Community Kitchen is located at 5337 180 Street.