La Tablée des Chefs and its partners — among them, culinary students at Red River College — have announced the launch of the second phase of the Solidarity Kitchens initiative, which will produce over 500,000 meals for food banks across Canada, with production primarily located in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.
La Tablée des Chefs is a charity whose mission is to fight against food insecurity and educate young people to develop their food autonomy. Its Solidarity Kitchens initiative began at the start of the pandemic, when the organization was approached by suppliers, farmers, restaurants, hotels and large venue sites who wanted to donate food that would otherwise go to waste. La Tablée des Chefs worked with distributors to deliver the food to revived kitchens, where the food would then be cooked and frozen.
Solidarity Kitchens has already made a significant impact, providing meals to Quebec food banks and community organizations across the region, with 2 million meals cooked and delivered from April to December 2020. This year, the goal is to cook and deliver more than 2 million servings to community food distribution networks in Canada by 2021. The start of this national initiative has been made possible with support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, which provided $1.3M in funding to launch Solidarity Kitchens.
“It’s been inspiring to see how Solidarity Kitchens has already helped so many vulnerable Canadians during the pandemic,” says Jean-François Archambault, CEO and founder of La Tablée des Chefs. “We want to sincerely thank all of our valued partners for their support in bringing this initiative to life and joining us in the fight against food insecurity.”
The meals produced will be primarily made with chicken, ground veal, eggs and a variety of vegetables from producers, processors and partners of the Canadian food industry. They’ll then be delivered to charitable food banks and distribution hubs across the country, including Harvest Manitoba (325+ food banks and agencies), the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Calgary Food Bank and Second Harvest.
In Winnipeg, three students from RRC’s Culinary Skills program have been hard at work prepping and packaging the meals for distribution locally.
“Throughout this pandemic, there have been countless examples of how Red River College students, faculty and staff continue to step up and support the needs of our community, and we are proud to be a part of the solution to help those struggling with food insecurity during this challenging time,” says Kirk Johnson, RRC’s Dean of Culinary Arts and Hospitality.
“This truly is a win-win for everyone. This partnership will give our students — including our Indigenous learners — the opportunity to apply the hands-on training and skills they’ve learned in the classroom and work with Chef Ben Kramer, a nationally celebrated culinary chef, all for the good of our community. We are proud to partner with Solidarity Kitchens on this important initiative.”
“My team and I are honoured to be helping with Solidarity Kitchens,” says Kramer, a renowned Winnipeg chef and founder of Made with Love. “Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve been committed to using our gifts to feed those who need it most. There are so many people in need in Winnipeg and across the country. Working together with La Tablée des Chefs will allow us to reach more of our most vulnerable populations.”
“Harvest Manitoba is extremely pleased to support the national Solidarity Kitchens initiative by La Tablée des Chefs,” says Keren Taylor-Hughes, CEO, Harvest Manitoba. “The demand for food has significantly increased during the pandemic, and the 100,000 meals we receive will be provided to members of our Community Food Network so they can provide home cooked meals to hungry Manitobans.”
“As the pandemic continues to have an impact on residents in our city, the 100,000 meals being provided through this initiative will be very helpful to Harvest Manitoba as they support local food banks,” says Mayor Brian Bowman. “Food security has affected many Winnipeggers as a result of the pandemic and this initiative from La Tablée des Chefs will help ensure meals are available for those who need it most.”
The Solidarity Kitchens that participated in making these meals were paid one dollar per meal, ensuring that all chefs and valuable workers in the hospitality industry are supported during this difficult time. The initiative will continue to support the food security needs of communities this year.
If you are interested in getting involved or donating, please visit tableedeschefs.org for more information.
Shown above: Culinary Skills students Leona Monias (at left), Sharnell McDougall (at right) and Zoey Gladu (inset).