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Ponoka Community Lunches is looking to provide meals on a year-round basis

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To further broaden its reach, volunteers with the newly-named Ponoka Community Lunches program are planning to provide meals on a year-round basis.

Formerly called the Ponoka Community Kitchen, meals are regularly prepared and served by various volunteer groups at the Ponoka United Church.

“The lunches are provided by various community sponsors,” said Charlotte Boychuk, the church’s administrative secretary.

“They are for those who need a meal and connection — it is all about connection, too,” she said.

“We also want to continue this program past the winter months. Right now, we are scheduled through March.

“But we aren’t stopping — we are going to continue with the program. We intend to keep it continuing throughout the year,” she said.

“We may even expand it, but for now we want to continue it because maintaining consistency is important,” she said, adding that she and the volunteer teams are working to spread the word about the lunches throughout the community.

Local agencies, businesses, churches, and social groups are more than welcome to come and use the facility and host the lunches, which run on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Boychuk emphasized that the meals are open to anyone, not just folks with any level of food insecurity.

“There are different kinds of vulnerabilities,” she said.

“There are those who are new to the community, and they are maybe having some difficulty engaging with people. There is no pressure here — people are not pushing anything on anyone.

“It’s a safe space. It’s also an accepting and inclusive space,” she said.

“People are welcome here, even if it’s just a matter of sitting with some friendly people.”

Meanwhile, groups interested in hosting a lunch are responsible for purchasing the necessary food for their meals.

“They can use our dishes, our coffee urns, and if there is any way that we can help these groups out, we will do that,” said Boychuk.

Besides the Ponoka Community Lunch program, there are also community dinners, which have been very successful since launching last fall, she added.

“We see a cross-section of the community at those suppers,” she said.

“Some people enjoy coming for the socialization, and the ambiance is phenomenal.”

As for the ongoing Coats for the Cold program, Boychuk said there is always a need for donations.

There is always a need for washable blankets, warm socks, small-sized toiletries, and warm footwear. The program runs all year long.

For more information, call the Ponoka United Church office at 403-783-4087.



Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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