When guests come to dine at St. Paul’s Anglican Church for lunch, they receive so much more than a just a hot meal.
That’s because lunch comes served with a side of friendly smiles from the volunteers that prepare the food and good conversation.
On the fourth Saturday of every month from September until May, members of the community are invited to the church at 32 Idylewylde Street in Fort Erie for a warm meal between 11 a.m . to 12:30 p.m. as part of the Food for the Soul Program.
Culinary students from Greater Fort Erie Secondary School arrive early in the morning to prepare, cook and serve the lunch to anyone who comes through the church’s doors.
The meal consists of healthy options; a salad, a meat and vegetables and a treat at the end. This week’s meal featured freshly made cabbage rolls, pasta, a salad and muffins for dessert.
GFESS culinary teacher Afshin Keyvani was asked to volunteer for Food for the Soul about three years ago so he gathered a handful of his culinary students to help and the teacher says he hasn’t looked back ever since.
“I liked it, and I think the people really appreciate it,” Keyvani says about the first time he volunteered with his students. It’s also a way to teach my students, first at Fort Erie Secondary School (when the high school was still open), and now at (the Town’s new high school) GFESS, about giving back to the community.”
Each month, Keyvani purchases the food and the students prepare it for anywhere from 70 to 120 people. The volunteer program gives the students an opportunity to practice their cooking skills and come and have lunch afterward with the guests.
Deacon Rod McDowell says St. Paul’s Anglican Church is part of a network of churches in Greater Fort Erie that take turns hosting the meal each week.
McDowell says he is grateful for all the volunteers that help and the partnership between the church and the local high school because Food for the Soul relies on the support of the community to be able to keep it going.
He invites everyone to come and enjoy a warm lunch at the church.
“Anyone who would like to have lunch is more than welcome. It doesn’t matter whether they have a religious background or not, it is an open table.”
While the program provides a meal to those who need it, McDowell it’s about providing companionship and camaraderie.
“There are people who live in Fort Erie that maybe don’t have a family. They’re lonely. This is a place for people to come so they don’t have to feel that way.”
For more information about Food for the Soul including dates, times and locations, to volunteer or make a donation call St. Paul’s Anglican Church at 905-871-6704