ESTEVAN - The Warm Welcome Kitchen is going to feed local residents twice a week, every week, starting Oct. 19.
The new season will see a few changes to this important community initiative. First, there will be a new co-ordinator, Aleksandra Szlapacka, taking over grocery shopping and food preparation. The changes were made last minute as the previous co-ordinator, who's always done a great job, stepped down in September, and the kitchen had to find a replacement.
"Fortunately for us, Aleks (Szlapacka) has come forward and asked to join the Warm Welcome Kitchen. She's fully trained, she knows everything that she needs to know, she's well versed in cooking for large groups. She has her own restaurant in town, she runs the Polish Kitchen. She's got all that behind her, so it seems like it's going to be quite simple for her to step into that role for us," said Wendy Godfrey, Warm Welcome Kitchen board chair.
Szlapacka said that for her it was important to do something for the community, and she saw such an opportunity with Warm Welcome Kitchen.
"I just want to give it back to our community. Everyone was supporting me all this time, so it's time to use my knowledge and help Warm Welcome Kitchen," Szlapacka said.
Once Warm Welcome Kitchen posted a vacancy, Szlapacka was quick to email them offering her help.
"She emailed us and said that she was interested. She said cooking is her passion. And she really wants to give back to the community as well, another passion of hers. So you know that makes it a really, really good fit for us. Both of those things, being able to cook really well and someone who wants to give back to the community, that's what the Warm Welcome Kitchen is all about," Godfrey said.
She added that Slapacka was the last piece of the puzzle and now they are ready to serve the community. Szlapacka will shop for food and will prepare meals for about 70 people twice a week.
While they have enough funds to provide full suppers twice a week, Godfrey said they would soon need to start fundraising to keep going.
"Right now, we're not doing too badly. But of course, it costs money to feed 70 people twice a week. So we will need to do some fundraising in the next little while. I'm not exactly sure what that will look like right now. That is the next topic of discussion for our board meetings for sure," Godfrey said.
The plan is to have a regular season, running from October through the end of April.
Because of the current COVID situation, hot, fully prepared and ready-to-eat suppers will be served take-out style every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30-6:15 p.m. from Trinity Lutheran Church.
Warm Welcome Kitchen hopes that the COVID numbers will go down soon, and they will be able to get back to in-person meals, but "for now, it'll be takeout just for the safety of everyone involved," Godfrey said.
While suppers will be served at the door, for the safety of everyone in line, people are encouraged to wear masks and keep a two-metre distance.