The Citizens Handbook

Community Kitchens

Community kitchens give people the opportunity to get together to share the cost, planning and preparation of healthy meals. Members usually meet twice a month, once to plan four or five entrées and to organize the purchase of food, and once to prepare the meals. Since a licensed kitchen is not required, groups meet in homes as well as church basements, Neighbourhood Houses and community centres.

Community kitchens may specialize. In Vancouver, one "cultural kitchen" provides an opportunity for Vietnamese women to learn about Canadian food products, and how they are prepared. Another has a "Canning Kitchen" where participants put up canned goods such as fruit, tomatoes and jam. Other kitchens specialize in vegetarian, ethnic, and special needs cooking. The interests of the group decide the focus of the kitchen.

Some Neighbourhood Houses see food preparation as an avenue for intercultural exchange. A group of Mexican residents will show a group of Chinese residents how to cook a few dishes. The next week they will switch places and the Chinese will show the Mexicans how to cook their dishes. Because people spend some time together, conversations reach far beyond food preparation, making the kitchen an great vehicle for intercultural understanding and appreciation.

Community kitchens are popular for a variety of reasons. Food costs less because it can be bought in bulk. It also takes less time to prepare because it is cooked in quantity - and sometimes frozen for later use. People most appreciate the way community kitchens provide an opportunity for people to get together. Many people have become close friends through community cooking. Some have discovered common interests that have led to the formation of new groups focusing on a variety of social issues.

For a lot more information on community kitchens see The Community Kitchens Project.

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