July 21, 2018

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Feeding a community's soul

Chefs, artists join forces to raise funds for northwest Winnipeg co-op committed to providing healthy food, connections

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Chef Camille Metcalfe while perparing a meal at the Norwest Co-op Community Food Centre.</p>

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press

Chef Camille Metcalfe while perparing a meal at the Norwest Co-op Community Food Centre.

The foundation of every strong community is preparing and sharing food among family, friends and neighbours.

Winnipeg’s NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre has been building those bonds since it opened its doors in March 2015. On Wednesday, the centre will connect with local chefs and artists to help it continue its work through its annual Art of Good Food fundraiser.

The food centre falls under the umbrella of the NorWest Co-op Community Health Centre, the only health-care co-operative in Manitoba. The $10 membership is open to adults in need who work or live in the northwest part of the city.

“Our food programs address food insecurity in the community by providing access to healthy food in a respectful and dignified setting,” says Janellyn Marcial, communications and fund development specialist at NorWest.

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The foundation of every strong community is preparing and sharing food among family, friends and neighbours.

Winnipeg’s NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre has been building those bonds since it opened its doors in March 2015. On Wednesday, the centre will connect with local chefs and artists to help it continue its work through its annual Art of Good Food fundraiser.

The food centre falls under the umbrella of the NorWest Co-op Community Health Centre, the only health-care co-operative in Manitoba. The $10 membership is open to adults in need who work or live in the northwest part of the city.

"Our food programs address food insecurity in the community by providing access to healthy food in a respectful and dignified setting," says Janellyn Marcial, communications and fund development specialist at NorWest.

fundraiser Preview

Click to Expand

The Art of Good Food

● Wednesday, May 16 at 6:45 p.m.

● Manitoba Museum

● Tickets are $90 at norwest.ticketbud.com

"The Art of Good Food is a night of creative artistry where a talented group of chefs and artists come together to raise money for our community food centre."

The fundraising event helps make the food programs at NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre (norwestcoop.ca) possible. The funds help community members develop food skills, healthy food behaviours through cooking and gardening, and social engagement to increase neighbourhood connections.

The centre’s goal for the fundraiser, which takes place Wednesday from 6:45-9 p.m. at the Manitoba Museum, is $40,000.

The evening features 11 chefs from across the city who will prepare food tastings for guests. At the same time, six artists will create art that will be auctioned off at the end of the night, Marcial says.

Among those cooking up a storm will be NorWest’s own community chef, Camille Metcalfe, who joined the co-op in September 2017.

Metcalfe says that in addition to the lunch program that is offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, it became clear there was a need to provide dinners, as well.

"Not everyone could (attend the lunches) since people have jobs with different hours," she says, adding she’s excited to be participating in the fundraiser.

"I’m bringing some volunteers with me and I’m really looking forward to the interaction with everyone all together — the community members, the volunteers, as well as our other chef, Grant Mitchell — and the people who come to the evening.

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Chef Camille Metcalfe (left) prepares vegetables with volunteers, Mary Adang (middle), and Terisita Estoesta (right) at the Norwest Co-op Community Food Centre. </p>

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press

Chef Camille Metcalfe (left) prepares vegetables with volunteers, Mary Adang (middle), and Terisita Estoesta (right) at the Norwest Co-op Community Food Centre.

"This event is really about building relationships and building community."

NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre serves the community with a variety of free programs that fall under three core areas: food access (community lunch, after-school smoothie drop-in, fruit and vegetable market); food skills (family cooking group, living well with diabetes, drop-in gardening, make and take); and education and engagement (community advocacy office, community action training and volunteering).

"Norwest Co-op Community Food Centre aims to improve the health and well-being of the Inkster and Seven Oaks community by bringing people to grow, cook, share and advocate for good food," Marcial says.

A 2017 survey of 75 adults yielded positive feedback from the community and valuable information on how the program is working.

A total of 17,507 meals were served in 2017, with 70 per cent of participants making healthy changes to their diets. Sixty-six per cent said the program contributed to positive changes in their physical health, while 95 per cent said the centre was an important source of healthy food. Ninety-seven per cent said they felt they were a part of a community at the centre. Fifty-one per cent of people noticed positive changes in their mental health since coming to the centre.

Metcalfe sees the results of the centre’s efforts.

"I love seeing the power of good food in action," she says.

"One community member recently told me how he had been suffering from many health issues for the past decade and how eating fresh, nutritious food at the community food centre has helped him make more healthy choices and visit his doctor’s office far less."

In addition to Metcalfe and Mitchell, the other chefs participating in the fundraiser are: Jessica King (Elements); Cait Richards (Have a Nice Day); Kyle Lew and Kristen Chemerika-Lew (Chew); Kelly Cattani (Oak and Grain); Mandel Hitzer (Deer + Almond); Talia Syrie and Aron Epp (Tallest Poppy); Dustin Peltier (Loaf and Honey); Eric Lee (Red River College); and Ben Kramer (chefbenkramer.com).

The artists contributing their work for auction are Nereo Eugenio, Jessica Hodgson, Marc Liss, Dominika Dratwa, Jay Cabredo and James Culleton.

The event is not a sit-down affair, to encourage guests to meet and mingle as they move to each chef station in the newly renovated Alloway Hall.

Tickets are priced at $90 and include a complimentary drink and unlimited food tastings. They are available online at https://norwest.ticketbud.com/ or by calling 204-794-3042 and are eligible for a tax receipt.

"Volunteers at Norwest Co-op Community Food Centre gain a sense of purpose and pride when they make and serve delicious, made from scratch meals," Metcalfe says. "And neighbours who haven’t yet met get to know one another over a fresh plate of healthy food.

"The simple act of sitting down and enjoying a meal with people brings a community together like nothing else can."

Twitter: @wendykinginwpg

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