A unique partnership between the Cabbagetown BIA, Dixon Hall and St. Luke’s United Church
Contributed by Rick Matthews, Executive Director of the Cabbagetown BIA
The idea for ‘Cabbagetown Cares’ started off as a simple one, as most good ideas do. How could we help Cabbagetown’s most vulnerable residents while also supporting our struggling small businesses, both of which are dealing with the impacts of a year-long pandemic? The answer: pay local restaurants to make healthy, well-balanced meals for people in our community facing increased food insecurity.
This unique partnership between the Cabbagetown BIA, Dixon Hall and St. Luke’s United Church began thanks to a grant and donations secured by Rev. Jim Keenan and a collective desire between all three organizations to work together to help mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.
With enough funds to make 100 lunches a week for six weeks, the BIA set out to find local businesses to partner with. Chew Chews Diner, Daniel et Daniel, Phö U, The Epicure Shop, Tim Horton’s, and DOVA were all quick to participate, and just a week later on a cold and snowy Thursday afternoon, we handed out our first lunches in Allan Gardens. As you might expect, the hot homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy served that day by Chew Chews were very well received. Delicious wraps, hearty sandwiches and subs, pasta and roast chicken lunches have all been equally enjoyed and appreciated.
But we couldn’t serve these meals without help, and each week dedicated staff and volunteers from Dixon Hall set up areas for food distribution, screening, sanitization and the handing out of face masks. They also work to ensure physical distancing is maintained while also making sure that people waiting in line know they’re not alone. Each week their enthusiasm and kindness are handed out as readily and warmly as the meals.
‘Cabbagetown Cares’ was originally slated to stop at the end of February, but thanks to generous financial donations from the wider community it has been extended until the end of this month. We’ve also received countless messages from people wanting to volunteer, make meals or find other ways to support this initiative. Your kindness and goodwill have been heartwarming.
So often during this pandemic we’ve heard the expression “we’re all in this together,” and while it’s become a bit cliché and debatable to some, this project has been an example where that’s actually the case. Meaningful and important bridges are being built that we all hope will last beyond the pandemic.