Slices of huge hams and spoonfuls of scalloped potatoes covered in cheddar cheese will be dished out Christmas Eve at the Rainbow Kitchen, where the spirit of giving is served year-round.
This week, 118 kilograms of ham and 5.5 kilograms of cheese were delivered by Cold Star Freight Systems to the Esquimalt agency, where tasty and nutritious meals are provided free to all ages. No questions are asked, and no government money goes toward the meals.
Cold Star has a long history of delivering food for good causes. Jennifer Hawes, who owns Cold Star with husband Kelly, spearheaded a program nine years ago to distribute food throughout the year to local neighbourhood houses. The food comes from damaged packages or overshipments.
After Cold Star gave some extra food to the volunteer-run Rainbow Kitchen a year ago, the relationship blossomed, with the couple dropping off food every so often.
Every month, the Rainbow Kitchen cooks more than 3,000 hot meals in the kitchen at Esquimalt United Church, 500 Admirals Rd.
Jennifer Hawes recently asked if Cold Star could sponsor a special meal, agreeing to support the Rainbow’s Christmas Eve dinner.
“My husband and I have been very blessed in our lives. We work very hard. We look at an organization like that that has a massive impact on a large number of people and we thought, ‘;You know what? We can do [more].’ ”
Sachi Tamura, Rainbow Kitchen volunteer co-ordinator, said an average of 125 or 130 dinners are served daily, with numbers higher some days.
Meals typically include salad, veggies, a protein, dessert and coffee, with tablecloths and flowers on the tables. “We try to make it a meal that you would serve to your family or company,” Tamura said.
In the course of a week, at least 120 volunteers will be involved in some way, she said. “Many of the volunteers are also very generous donors.”
Starbucks is one of several other companies supporting the Rainbow Kitchen. It provides gift-wrapped Christmas care packages. The public can drop off non-perishable personal items at these Starbucks locations:
Saanich Centre, 103-3995 Quadra St.
Oak Bay, Oak Bay Ave.
Torquay Village, 4077 Shelbourne St.
McKenzie and Teakwood (Tuscany), 104-1646 McKenzie Ave.
Sidney, 2471 Beacon Ave.
Shelbourne Plaza, 28-3605 Shelbourne St.
Fort and Foul Bay, 1959 Fort St.
Cadboro Bay, 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd.
Broadmead, 550-777 Royal Oak Dr.
It’s all part of ongoing support for the Rainbow Kitchen from Starbucks in Saanich, Sidney and Oak Bay, the company said. Once a month, Starbucks volunteers prepare frozen meals for the kitchen.
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