Paula Havixbeck wants to feed the hungry and wants you to help.
The mayoral candidate endorsed a food program – Mealshare – that operates in four Canadian cities and hopes it will set up in Winnipeg.
Havixbeck, the first-time councillor from Charleswood-Tuxedo, said she supports all poverty-reduction efforts and believes the Mealshare program could benefit soup kitchens in Winnipeg.
"When elected, I will implement a Mealshare program for the City of Winnipeg," Havixbeck said, while standing in front of the Winnipeg Harvest facilities. "Civic government has a role in poverty reduction. We see poverty in our city daily...As civic leaders, we have to take a role in that."
Havixbeck’s announcement was welcomed by Winnipeg Harvest, which has been operating a similarly named program, Project Meal Share, since 1992.
The Mealshare initiative – operating now in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria – involves restaurants donating a portion of proceeds from designated meals on their menus to partner agencies that use the funds to buy meals for area soup kitchens.
Winnipeg Harvest’s Project Meal Share involves area restaurants flash-freezing food that hasn’t been served – mostly soups, stews and bread but other dishes as well – which is then picked up by Winnipeg Harvest and distributed to one of the city’s 14 soup kitchens.
David Northcott, Winnipeg Harvest executive director, said he was grateful for Havixbeck’s commitment, adding that while she was endorsing a different initiative, she is drawing attention to Winnipeg Harvest’s own program.
"If somebody (Havixbeck) can come to the table, under the banner of running for office and be able to say ‘let’s get something going,’ we appreciate that," Northcott said.
The Winnipeg Harvest volunteers – clients – involved in Project Meal Share receive professional training and work towards earning a food handler’s certificate, Northcott said, adding many of them are able to find employment with the partners involved in Project Meal Share.
Northcott said 15 local restaurants and institutional kitchens are participating in Project Meal Share, adding he’s hoping this latest publicity will get others involved.
"It really adds a kick to (Project Meal Share) and gives validity publicly, which we thank (Havixbeck) for that," Northcott said. "If she becomes mayor or not, we have no opinion, but right now if she gives us food we love her very much."