The collective kitchens were set up to promote the nutritional self-reliance of individuals and families in a situation of poverty. They are offered by several food security agencies as well as by many other resources that help families, seniors and the cultural communities.
Small groups of people pool their time, money and skills to prepare economical, healthy and appetizing meals according to a four-step process, which involves planning, shopping, cooking and evaluating.
Participants get together to choose recipes, write the grocery list and do the shopping. They cook their meals collectively, then each goes home with low-cost tasty dishes for the whole family. Pride, dignity and pleasure are significant ingredients, as are the values of solidarity, mutual-support, equity, self-reliance and respect. The collective kitchens are places for bonding, discussion and learning. They are also the doorway to a vast mutual-aid network: once participants register, they are directed according to their needs to other services, such as homework assistance, support for immigrant families, etc.
The collective kitchens are accessible to everyone because they aim to promote social mix. In recent years, they have diversified to respond to special groups and needs: young mothers (preparing baby food), elderly men (learning to cook), women of diverse origins (meeting cultural food preferences), etc.
Collective kitchens: way more than just kitchens
Collective kitchens are an opportunity to:
- Break out of your isolation
- Meet people and make new friends
- Build a support network
- Improve your self-confidence
- Share experiences and knowledge
- Learn to work in a team
- Develop ties in the community
1,300 collective kitchen groups are members of the Regroupement des cuisines collectives du Québec, a Centraide-supported agency.
Collective kitchens first appeared in 1982 in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district of Montreal. They were the result of the resourcefulness of two sisters and one of their friends, who met regularly to plan and cook their recipes while sharing the costs.
Their idea spread from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, and eventually throughout Quebec. In 1990, the by then numerous collective kitchens came together by establishing the Regroupement des cuisines collectives du Québec. Source: www.rccq.org
Going beyond food donations to promote nutritional self-reliance
Centraide also supports numerous alternative approaches to promoting the food security of people in a situation of poverty: collective gardens, Magasins-partage “Holiday Season” grocery stores, Good Food Box initiatives, neighbourhood micromarkets, community agency grocery stores, and various front-line services (food counters, community cafeterias, meals and snacks in the schools and day camps).
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