By Michelle Poirier

After the COVID-19 lockdown put a hold on community lunches, The Good Food Collective has resumed their in-person lunches every other Wednesday at The Link in Sutton. 

The Good Food Collective is a collaboration between the Georgina Food Pantry, Community Living Georgina, and Routes Connecting Communities.

The weekly community lunches are open to everyone. 

“The sit-down lunch is a pay-what-you-can model. So, if you’re a high-income person, you might pay a little more for the meal. If you’re low income, you might just not pay that day; that’s your choice. It’s just that collective contribution and the idea of people from diverse backgrounds sitting together and eating,” Niv Balachandran, Executive Director of Routes, said.

She said they had good attendance before the lockdown and could share information about other programs and services with the residents in attendance. 

The next community lunch will be on March 9 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and it will be grilled corn and potato chowder with a chicken salad wrap and crudité.

“There are a lot of people looking for this because it’s not just to provide a healthy nutritious meal with locally sourced ingredients, it’s also the idea of people eating together, connecting and reducing isolation, which is huge, especially in the pandemic we’re facing,” Cesar Caneo, Executive Director of the Georgina Community Food Pantry, said.

The Good Food Collective also offers weekly take-out lunches from their World Flavours Catering menu; these are ethnic meals provided at $5.00 per meal. The meals are offered opposite Wednesdays to the community lunches at The Link, and you must call and pre-order.

Caneo said the ethnic menus use food as a tool to create a more inclusive community. 

Balachandran agrees it helps to raise awareness about other cultures. 

“When we did the trial at the beginning, we did a survey, and some people said, ‘I’ve never tried this food before, and at a $5.00 price point, it allows me to try,’” Balachandran said. 

She said that the low price point opens a lot of different cuisines to residents. 

Volunteers preparing lunches

“The intention is to turn it into full-blown catering, where the residents keep all the profits of the catered menu, so we’re working towards that concept and ideal,” Balachandran said. 

“Right now, they’re cooking together, and cooking ethnic meals, and so what we’ve heard so far is for a lot of residents it’s the first time they’ve cooked some of these things, some of the ingredients are new to them.” 

If a resident does not have a way to get to the community lunch or pick-up their take-out meal, Routes can arrange a ride there and back if booked ahead of time. 

For more information on the community lunches or Flavours Catering, you can call (905) 722-4616 or visit www.goodfoodcollective.ca.

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