Everyone belongs at the table

Across Indwell buildings and regions, our food programs—like our varying supports—are not one-size-fits-all. Some of the people whom we support thrive from having three meals a day provided by staff, like at our Wentworth Program in Hamilton, while others do their own cooking, and might access local food banks with help from staff. From “spice clubs” to community gardens to baking groups, across Indwell we find one thing in common: food brings people together.

Parkdale Landing/Strathearne Suites (Hamilton):

The opening of Parkdale Landing in 2018 was also the launch of Indwell’s largest commercial kitchen—with enough space to feed 80+ tenants from Parkdale Landing and its sister building, Strathearne Suites, at one daily communal dinner. Meals held in the spacious dining hall facilitated time for staff and tenants to connect with one another over a hot homestyle meal. It’s amazing what you can find to talk about when you’re not focused on talking!

As with all of our programs, COVID changed things, and within a few days of the initial lockdown in March 2020, we were delivering food door-to-door in take-away containers. The daily meal became one way for staff to check in on people who might be isolated.

According to Josh Stoffelsen, food security staff at Parkdale Landing,

“I came from fine dining and other restaurants with big food
budgets. I’ve cooked for celebrities and never really cared much.
Indwell turned that around—food security is such a big deal in
today’s world, and Indwell sees that. We are honoured to try and
help bridge that gap.

“I started a soup program. All the veggies from kitchen leftovers
get put into a soup which is handed out three times a week. We’re
dedicated to giving our tenants in the east end the best service,
food, and smells possible.”

Staff and tenants alike are looking forward to gathering together
over meals in person again soon!

Woodfield Gate (London):

Woodfield Gate in London has been through a wild ride over the past three years. When it opened in 2019, the plan was to serve one communal meal per day (which started in a truly grassroots way—out of an apartment kitchen!), but in under a year, the world—and our programs—were grappling with COVID. The food was delivered door-to-door while staff strove to find ways to continue fostering community. Louise Flemington, household administrator at Woodfield Gate, recalls,

“The first program I ran—the Woodfield Gate Spice Class—has made it through the pandemic with relationships bringing the flavour. Bags of ingredients were delivered door-to-door, and we ran our spice program via Zoom. We will meet again face-to-face soon for a Mexican themed blend and some conversation with a spicy snack.”

People can also attend Nutrition Hour where Keisha Joseph, food program facilitator, provides price match sheets for groceries that a tenant can take with them to a “price match” store. With their vegetable garden in the courtyard, Woodfield Gate tenants also have seasonal access to fresh produce.

Hambleton Hall (Simcoe):

While Hambleton Hall doesn’t offer a daily meal, there are ample opportunities to gather around food. According to Debra Vandermeer (program launch supervisor for Dogwood Suites, opening shortly), it’s the tenants at Hambleton Hall who are
instrumental in creating community around food:

“We have various tenants who are natural leaders and offer to take new tenants to the local food programs, and many skilled chefs in the building who love to cook for everyone, especially when they couldn’t volunteer in their usual places during COVID. These were some of the most well attended events in the history of
Hambleton Hall!”

This article was originally featured in our Spring 2022 Newsletter.
Read the latest newsletter here.

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