Meet BCause Box Charity Partner: Rainbow Kitchen
We recently visited Rainbow Kitchen, a non-profit soup kitchen (and so much more) in Esquimalt, BC that provides meals, a free grocery market, bus tickets, and more to community members. There was a massive sense of community and comfort, from immediately being asked if we needed anything to having food offered and asked if I was hungry to being greeted by many of their volunteers. Leaving Rainbow Kitchen in awe of everything they do and with a massive smile on my face, I want to share with you a bit of what I learned and how we can help.
They are currently raising funds to renovate their kitchen which is used daily to provide hundreds of meals. Please visit the Rainbow Kitchen website to donate.
"From the volunteers, to the board of directors, to the people, this place is filled with love and it’s soul-filling."
Q: Can you tell us about yourself and Rainbow Kitchen?
My name is Patrick Johnstone and I am the very proud Executive Director of Rainbow Kitchen here in Esquimalt. We’re a non-profit soup kitchen, a community kitchen that welcomes everybody. We set ourselves apart by being a safe place that can welcome families and children 5 days a week, Monday through Friday and we’re a beautiful place to have a meal. We started about 16 years ago by providing lunch to the community and we’ve grown so much since then.
Now, Rainbow Kitchen offers breakfast every morning at 8:30, and a delicious and nutritious lunch that the community knows us for at 12:00. We’ve also changed and spread into the community these days, we are a school meal program at 3 schools and provide over 1000 meals per school per month. We support community meals that go out to isolated community members who can’t get to us directly. We also have a market that friends can shop with dignity and take home a bag of groceries that they are excited to use themselves. We provide a bus ticket and try to be a place that folks can get to and home from with a meal and some community connection.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge faced by Rainbow Kitchen?
We’re a soup kitchen that welcomes anybody, especially as times get tougher with the rising cost of food and we’ve become a resource more people are coming to. Rainbow Kitchen is introducing new people to our program every single day. Before Covid, we’d know the entire dining room full of guests and may be introduced to one new friend a week. Now it’s a couple of new friends every single day.
We’re in a food insecurity crisis, and Rainbow Kitchen is the front line of that. We rely heavily on our community for donations, volunteers, and things in kind, but one of the things that Rainbow Kitchen is magical at is rescuing food. So every day, we have a driver and van that goes out to different grocery stores, wholesalers, and farmers and collects everything the community might not be in need of or have an excess of. Here, we sort it and we turn it into meals like the 250 lunches every day. It’s incredibly massive numbers these days. All of that great produce is saved from landfills and comes here and is turned into beautiful meals that we serve with love.
Q: Does Rainbow Kitchen have any current initiatives?
Something we’re working on here these days is our kitchen. We’re pumping out more meals than ever. In July we served over 20,000 meals which is more than in December which is usually our busiest month in previous years. So our kitchen is in need of support.
We received amazing pieces (appliances) into our kitchen in 2016, which were used like our ovens and our first-ever walk-in fridge. But these items are coming to the end of their life span, unfortunately. So we are asking our community for help this August so we can turn on 4 brand new ovens and 2 freezers so we can continue serving our community.
Q: How can people help Rainbow Kitchen?
There are so many ways to donate to Rainbow Kitchen and impact your community.
Through time as a volunteer, if you’ve got some time on your hands, we’ve got a spot for your abilities.
If you see community items you have that we need that are listed on our website or Instagram, please donate. We always need tomatoes.
And then there are monetary donations through our website which funds go directly to Rainbow Kitchen and to our programs.
Q: Is there a highlight of your time at Rainbow Kitchen?
Rainbow Kitchen is the people and my favourite part is coming to work every day. I’ve never had a job or career like this where I have a community of friends that I show up to every day who know my name and are excited to see me and I’m equally excited to see them. Moving to Victoria was tricky a couple of years ago but now I have the biggest community here. From the volunteers, to the board of directors, to the people, this place is filled with love and it’s soul-filling.
If you’d like to support Rainbow Kitchen and the great work they do, please visit their website or subscribe to the Rainbow Kitchen BCause Box, and they'll receive 5% of the proceeds.