We had the chance to catch up with Sundae Nordin, CEO at The Community Kitchen Program of Calgary, about how they work to reduce hunger by promoting healthy food choices.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
The Community Kitchen Program of Calgary is a non-profit organization that has been in the Calgary area for over 29 years providing support and resources to those in our community facing food insecurity.
We work to reduce hunger by promoting healthy food choices and enabling the community to educate, equip and feed themselves. All our programs promote self-empowerment and we strongly believe in “A hand up, not a hand out.”
What problem does it aim to solve?
The Community Kitchen works with individuals, families and communities to reduce hunger. We served just under 274,000 Albertans in 2020, over 97,000 of those were children. We work to train and equip individuals to make the best choices to positively impact their family’s future.
When did you start/join it?
We have been working in the city of Calgary and surrounding areas for over 29 years. Our CEO, Sundae Nordin, has been part of the organization for 10 years. She originally started in the Volunteer Coordinator/Community Development position and 5 years later took over as CEO when Marilyn Gunn, the founder of Community Kitchen, retired. Marilyn’s original vision was to be a place that people facing food insecurities could come and learn skills and have access to resources to not only stretch their monthly food budgets but feel empowered to make the best decisions for the families.
What made you want to get involved?
Though food insecurity has been something prevalent in our city for many years, the current situation is even direr. All of us employed here at the Kitchen recognize the growing need for support and resources as more and more individuals and families have been plunged into financial distress. The simple yet crucial task of how to put food on their tables has become more of a challenge with losses of jobs within Alberta’s energy sector and then the additional stresses brought on by the pandemic.
What was the situation like when you started?
We recognize that even if we were not here from the very beginning, the challenges that our communities face are the same, though now the numbers and issues have intensified. The basic question of “How do I put healthy and nutritious food onto my family’s table?” is one that too many of our neighbours struggle with on a daily basis in our city.
How has it changed since?
Calgary and our surrounding communities have faced so many obstacles and challenges, especially over the past five years, that our stats now tell us that 1 in 10 Alberta families struggle with food insecurity.
When you think of your neighbours and community, it is staggering to think that many families are quietly struggling. We have come to learn that food insecurity is also tightly tied to our mental health and have begun addressing that in our various programs.
What more needs to be done?
For us here at the Community Kitchen, it is about creating awareness of the situation first and foremost.
We have many programs under our umbrella that help support and educate Calgarians in regard to reducing food insecurities. Though we have some amazing supporters and sponsors, we are always looking for funding as some of our programs still have little to no funding. Please visit our website for more details regarding the programs we run.
How can our readers help?
Readers can help by donating directly to the Community Kitchen or by coming and giving of their time by volunteering. We have a few programs that rely heavily on volunteers to run like our Good Food Box program. It comes to down neighbors helping neighbors, even if you never have an opportunity to see that person’s face, giving back and supporting others feels good. In today’s turbulent economy we never know when we could be the one needing help. Talking to each other is also very important because we may not know our neighbour is struggling and unaware that the Community Kitchen is there to support them. Building awareness about what we do and can offer here at the Kitchen is crucial.
Do you have any events coming up?
With all the restrictions that have come with Covid-19, we have been unable to hold functions as we would normally like to. Once again, if your readers still want to be involved, they can go to our website to see how they can donate monetarily or with their time. Also keeping conversations open in regards to food insecurity and mental health will help continue to create awareness about the resources available in our city.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
When I asked Sundae, our CEO, it was an immediate answer…Ronald McDonald House. They do so much for the families that are dealing with sick children. They realize that support needs to happen for the entire family when navigating through such challenging times.