St. Paul’s Social Services, which includes the St Paul’s Social Services Food Bank and The Fellowship Centre responds to London and area residents who are in need of emergency food access and other support services.
In the last year, there was a new Three Year Strategic Plan that was pitched and approved by the Board of Directors at St. Paul’s Social Services. Within this Strategic Plan, there are three main directions St. Paul’s Social Services is committed to taking. These changes to St. Paul’s Social Services have already begun in the Food Bank, and The Fellowship Centre has a planning committee who’s goal is to make a year long plan to gradually implement the changes outlined in the Strategic Plan.
Within St. Paul’s Social Services, there will be an effort to provide food that meets Canada’s Food Guide requirements and Health Canada’s Food and Nutrition Guidelines. To do this, the St Paul’s Social Services Food Bank will only purchase food that reflects these guidelines (such as brown rice, oats, and lentils) and will offer fresh produce on a daily basis. The Fellowship Centre will begin to offer meals reflecting these guidelines with a focus on serving a minimum of 2 fresh or frozen fruits/vegetables to each guest and lower salt, fat and sugar based foods.
We will develop “community” at The Fellowship Centre by adjusting the number of participants and support our participants’ experience of community by providing food through partial table service and phase in programming based on client inquiry.
A community garden has been planted that volunteers water, weed and pick fresh produce from for the use of St. Paul’s Social Services. Much of this produce is given to families and individuals coming in for an emergency food supply, who are delighted to receive fresh food.
St. Paul’s Social Services has also begun providing food-skills preparation classes. People can come and learn how to prepare a cost effective meal that uses the healthy food provided by the Food Bank. This service is free and open to anyone that wishes to learn how to cook meals for their families or themselves. All in attendance get to enjoy the meal after they have learned to cook it.
St. Paul’s Social Services will in the next year begin to provide: advice, support, referral and where required advocacy on a client’s behalf through a newly created volunteer/staff position.
As well as these three specific directions, St. Paul’s Social Services has become more hospitality focused. In the past year, the waiting room for the St Paul’s Social Services Food Bank has been painted, new chairs purchased, and an inspirational mural completed and hung on the wall. A welcoming person now greets and assists every person who comes to the St Paul’s Social Services Food Bank’s door.