I begin this post with a huge thank you to the residents of St. Albert. The last couple of years have been tough for so many folks in our community. At the St. Albert Food Bank and Community Village we focused on our core services of providing food and psychosocial support to our families as best we could. We could not have accomplished this without the unwavering support of our community.
Because of the pandemic restrictions we needed to pause some of our programming. We needed to change the way we offered the services we were continuing, and we began to research further into new areas of programming that might support St. Albertans.
With that in mind we are excited to re-start one of our favourite programs — our Cultural Kitchen and launch a long-awaited new program — the St. Albert HomeShare Program.
The first (and most fun) is the Cultural Kitchen. This program began in September 2012 and was paused in February 2020. In that first seven-and-a-half years, we were fortunate to have met some amazing folks from 35 different countries who joined us in the kitchen to showcase their culture through food. We were treated to food from Sri Lanka, Africa, the Caribbean, Morocco, Mexico, and Syria, just to name a few. What was so wonderful was the camaraderie that became part of the experience. We all learned about each other’s traditions in such an enjoyable way. St. Albert is so fortunate to have a diverse population and we invite all to contact us if you are interested in facilitating and learning about different cultures. We have a newly renovated kitchen that will be such a treat for everyone to see and use! We will start the new year off on Sept. 13 with cooking from Italy — anyone who joins us for this evening will be in for a real treat!
The soon-to-be launched St. Albert HomeShare Program is a match-up program that connects home providers with individuals who are looking for a place to live. Tailored agreements are created in which homeowners provide accommodation at a reduced or nominal rent to an individual in exchange for both companionship and assistance with household tasks. While home sharing is not for everyone, it can meet the needs of many. This reciprocity and mutual benefit form the basis of an effective HomeShare arrangement, which, when done properly can enhance the lives of both the homeowner and the home seeker. As an example, students may be a group that would be seeking more affordable rents and would be willing to provide help around the house. The tasks could include dog walking, snow removal, lawn care or carrying in the groceries.
The HomeShare program came to be as a result of the small inventory of appropriate housing (affordable, barrier free and safe) available in St. Albert. Students struggle to find a safe, affordable place to live while going to school and some older adults struggle with isolation or loneliness and the HomeShare program may be seen as building bridges between generations.
We are all looking forward to experiencing that feeling of normalcy again. Thank you, St. Albert, for helping us get through the challenges!
Suzan Krecsy is the director of the St. Albert Food Bank.