Cooking a free downtown dinner for 100 people requires much more than helping hands and food donations.
As the turnout continues to grow for the once-a-month dinner, the Downtown Dinner Committee at the Trail United Church is struggling with adequate refrigeration for food storage both pre and post meal.
So the volunteers are doing what they do best – cooking a great Sunday meal – as well as collecting items for a Dec. 3 silent auction dinner event at the Trail United Church.
All proceeds from the Fundraiser and Silent Auction will go toward the purchase a new cooler for use at downtown dinners, thrice monthly food banks, and for the church’s various teas and receptions.
“What we are doing is raising money to buy a commercial cooler,” volunteer Trish Barber told the Trail Times. “Because what we are finding, is the numbers are increasing, so we need to have more storage room when we prepare food,” she added. “We get a lot of vegetables from the stores and our fridge gets pretty clogged.”
The committee is requesting donations to the silent auction. Contributions can be pledged, such as a donation of service, or gift certificates and new merchandise.
“These would be of great value to the many dinner clients as we move towards fulfilling this need,” the committee shared. “Please become a participant and contribute to assist with the completion of this worthwhile cause.”
The free dinner program for downtown residents has been running since early 2006. The outreach program provides a nourishing meal for those who are unable to do so on their own and for those who may not have companionship outside of the Sunday meal.
Barber has tracked the average number of dinner guests over time. When the program began 11 years ago, usually around 40 people showed up. Today the committee cooks for 100 and typically serves at least 80+ patrons.
The Trail United Church Food Bank will also benefit from the new commercial cooler. Longtime volunteer Marylynn Rakuson says as of Sept. 30, the food pantry has served 3090 people or an average 453 people monthly. That number has climbed by 50 each month since 2016, so the annual average attendance is expected to well surpass last year’s service total of 4,845 patrons.
Run three Tuesdays a month strictly on donations and volunteer help, the food bank shows no signs of slowing down. Patrons were lined up the stairs by 9 a.m., although the church doors don’t open until 10 a.m.
“We are very thankful of the people that give us food and the market who’s raised money over the summer,” Rakuson said, referring to a Tuesday donation of $1,225 from Trail’s incrEDIBLE Farmers Market.
“Food donations, cash donations, we appreciate everything that the community gives us,” she shared.
“If someone comes in and says they need food for two people, then that is what they walk away with … the United Church just feeds people, no questions asked.”
Anyone who wishes to donate to the silent auction fundraiser is encouraged to call Trish Barber at 250.364.0941, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Enid Van Beek at 250.368.6487 or email email@example.com.