The Gift of a Hot Meal

On a normal day, in a small cramped kitchen tucked in behind some of Winnipeg’s busiest downtown core areas, in a 100-year-old former spice factory, Main Street Project prepares over 250 meals daily for Winnipeg’s homeless.

For as long as anyone can remember at Main Street Project, hot meals were prepared on an old battered gas stove that needed to be lit with a piece of rolled up newspaper ... less than safe and less than ideal. "When you work with some of the city’s most vulnerable, you do what you have to do to keep people fed," says Lisa Goss, Main Street Project's Executive Director. “Food security is central to people’s health and wellbeing.”

Enter Jordan Farber of Qualico. During the CEO Sleepout organized by the Downtown Biz back in September, Jordan had a chance to tour Main Street Project's emergency homeless shelter… and he spotted the old stove. “Unacceptable” he thought. And so, quietly and without fanfare, Qualico donated a new commercial gas stove worth over $7,000 for Main Street Project’s kitchen ... Just like that! “The corporate community needs to step up and take a lead role,” says Jordan. “While buying a stove certainly won’t solve the homelessness issue, hopefully it will inspire others to support organizations like Main Street Project."

While we all wish that shelters like Main Street Project didn’t need to exist, the reality is that they do. As leaders in the business community, we need to be there for our local community.” Founded in 1972, Main Street Project is Winnipeg’s oldest shelter, providing 24/7 crisis care and support services 365 days a year to the city’s most vulnerable populations. “While every day can be hard for our clients, the Holiday Season is a particularly tough time of the year,” says Goss. “In addition to being homeless, our clients often suffer from chronic illness, mental health issues and addictions. Nutritional hot food and a roof over their heads are the bare essentials.”

Main Street Project does just that, by providing a safe, respectful, accessible place for individuals at risk in the community. Main Street Project also advocates for a more inclusive society that assists marginalized individuals to make real choices.

Winnipeggers have big hearts. Jordan Farber and Qualico have reminded us of that. Some things are more than they seem…. a new stove is really not a stove… it’s a hot meal; it’s the difference between hunger and starvation; sickness and health; and in some cases, life or death. It’s also a morale booster for the amazing Main Street Project staff committed to the service of others… helping those unable to help themselves.

Most importantly, we are reminded that giving starts with a single perso doing a single act of kindness ... and then inviting others to do the same.