The rent is paid for the rest of 2012 for the Rainbow Kitchen Society - which provides more than 3,000 free hot meals per month - thanks to $10,000 from the Victoria Real Estate Board.
"I'm not sure how we would have done it without you," said society chair Garth Walmsley, who called the donation "an incredible show of support" from the business community.
The non-profit society is run by a roster of 110 volunteers who will now be able to concentrate on fundraising for items such as a walk-in freezer and new chairs at its large and sunlit new home in the Esquimalt United Church.
"The need is great and it operates on a shoestring," Wendy Moreton of VREB said. Despite community support and a church lawn largely devoted to growing cabbage and rhubarb, Rainbow's $65,000 budget must now cover $30,000 in annual rent.
The kitchen served hungry people at its previous rent-free home in St. Saviour's Church, sold last year by the Anglican Diocese.
Janitorial work costs $11,300 annually and food and supplies still add up to $9,100 despite donations from community sponsors.
Real estate board president Carol Crabb acknowledges that high rents can be a factor in the number of people who rely on 20 or so public kitchens to eat.
The number of diners at the Rainbow Kitchen seems to be "growing steadily," noted board member Sara Darling. The average is about 125 daily diners, but can increase by 20 or 30 for some meals.
"It's not just for soup - it's a full, beautiful homecooked meal with salad and dessert."
Tuesday's lunch, served on checkered tablecloths, included meat loaf, rice and mixed vegetables, fresh salad with purÃ©ed avocado dressing, and apple crumble with whipped cream.
"This place has helped me a lot," said 66-year-old Ivan Livingstone, a fiveday-per-week diner who told a press conference Tuesday that income assistance payments leave him only "three to five dollars a day" for food.
He sees working people around him regularly. "If people that are working cannot afford to buy food, what is happening to people who are not working?"
Livingstone then cut a gigantic white-cake topped with an edible cheque - the real money was delivered by VREB in time for September's rent.
Most of the kitchen's guests are seniors, 40 per cent are women and 15 per cent are families. No questions are asked of any diner.
"It's not just the free food. It's the love that it's served with - we accept people just the way they are," said Patrick Hunt, a volunteer in the midst of making a shepherd's pie that called for 18 kilograms of lean beef and 22 kg of potatoes.
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins has served, eaten and prepared food at the kitchen.
"It is fabulous," she said. "They give seconds and take-home - and, not only that, they also do vegetarian."
For more information, go to rainbowkitchen.ca.
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