From our summer intern, Isabela:
One of my goals for my internship with Planted this summer is to visit a wide range of food programs. That lead me to West Hastings Street and the Potluck Cafe, the host site for a bi-weekly community kitchen.
The Potluck Cafe is a Social Enterprise. According to The Social Enterprise Council of Canada, social enterprises are businesses owned by nonprofit organizations that are directly involved in the production and/or selling of goods and services for the purpose of generating income and achieving social, cultural, or environmental aims. The mission of Potluck Cafe Society is to create jobs and provide healthy food for people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Neighborhood. Along with the cafe, they provide catering services, so while creating jobs, they earn revenue to support community programs, like the community meal program, the DTES Kitchen Tables Project, and the community kitchen.
The community kitchen menu the night I visited was sushi rolls, chicken soba noodles, edamame salad and green tea shortbread. The space can only accommodate a small group, so participants arrived early to get one of the 15 tickets distributed. Some people asked what the menu was and decided not to participate – either sushi was unfamiliar, or not appetizing to them that night.
Recipe stations were set up on the tables in the cafe so people could work on the recipe that most interested them. I got to work on the green tea shortbread, then the sushi rolls after the cookies were in the oven. Making the sushi was fun. We talked about using our creativity to fill them with whatever we might have in the fridge.
Even if the menu was not a usual choice for everyone, it was a nice ambience, with hearty conversation as we tried to figure out the best way to make each recipe. When we had cleaned up, a few leftovers were available for the participants to take home.
The Potluck Cafe strengthens ties in the community by offering an opportunity for people to prepare and enjoy a healthy meal together. Learn more about their work here, or order their catering here.