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Busy Tuesdays at 5n2

Do you ever wonder what goes on at a soup kitchen? What are all those people doing? Well, let me walk you through a typical Tuesday.

The day starts at 8:30 AM with a delivery of fresh produce from one of our most valued partners, Second Harvest. We have received potatoes, butternut squash, turnips, kale, lettuce and tomatoes which will need to be sorted. Chef Vikrum arrives at 10:00 AM to look over what we have and to decide what is on the menu today. He works with the kitchen team to prepare soups, salads, sandwiches, main lunch meal (protein with a starch). The food must then be put into single serving containers which is quite time-consuming! We have a list of locations including the number of orders (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) for this day and the team will package the servings in cardboard boxes for delivery to various locations in Scarborough or sometimes, pick-up here at 5n2. Any left-over food that is not used today will be packed up, dated and put away in our walk-in refrigerator for the next day or will be stored in the walk-in freezer for future use. Nothing goes to waste at 5n2.

Now that the food has gone out, it’s time to clean up the kitchen. Dirty dishes, pots and pans must be washed and the floor is mopped. Garbage is collected and sorted accordingly into compost, recyclable and non-recyclable. The washroom is scrubbed and the aprons and dishcloths are collected to be washed. Food that has come in during the day either through food donations or food rescues have been logged and put away. This is the day where one of our volunteers goes to a bulk retailer to purchase assorted goods needed to supplement the shortfall from donated and rescued food. And, he will also perform light maintenance work as required. There is always work to be done! Let’s not forget the administrative team behind the scenes that keeps our website running, manages our various programs, works with our clients etc. and that is always ready to step in when we are short-handed in the kitchen.

“It’s a real team effort to get the food out the door and everyone has a role to play,” recaps Seema David, founder and Executive Director of 5n2. When the lights go out at the end of the day, the kitchen is spotless, the aprons are clean, the larder is orderly and we are ready for whatever the next day brings.

“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.”

– Joseph B. Wirthlin

5n2 During Covid Times

It is almost unbelievable to think that a year has gone by since the Province of Ontario implemented safety protocols to manage the spread of the virus to protect its citizens.

We felt the impact immediately at 5n2 in the way we prepare meals for our clients going from large trays feeding 35 people down to individual portions in recyclable single use containers. This increased our costs and preparation time. As many of our volunteers are seniors, we were faced with a reduced number of volunteers to get the meals ready and to assist in other work at the kitchen. We also had less food rescue donations due to retail food establishment and restaurant closures. Yes, we did indeed face some challenges.

The pandemic has exposed food insecurity as an issue that is faced by many people living in Toronto, and statistics bear witness to an increase in number of visits to food banks and soup kitchens in 2020. By the end of 2020, we had doubled the number of meals we serve on a weekly basis and had added new locations for those in need in our community. We have adapted to the single use containers however there is still significant effort required in planning and scheduling deliveries to the various locations. We have grown, and we are introducing new programs this year. We are always looking for volunteers, food donations/ food rescue and monthly donors to keep us going one meal at a time.

We would not have been able to get through the past year without the support of our volunteers, partners, donors and grant makers. Onward with 2021!

“All sorrows are less with bread. “ –  Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra