A Pointe Claire church is embarking on an ambitious new project that its pastor thinks could change the way people – particularly single people living alone and families – eat, and the church has created a new ministry of food to try and make the vision a reality.
"It came about because we wanted to find different ways to reach out and connect with the community around us," said St. Columba by-the-Lake pastor Ian Fraser. "Food is really important for the community; it's how we connect with each other. Churches have been doing food for years( as part of social events), but it's been in the background. We want to bring it to the forefront of the discussion," he said.
That's how the church came up with the idea of a 'food ministry,' and hired Pointe Claire resident Nadia Prevost – who has a background in both food service and community work – to fill the three-day-a-week post.
The specifics of the ministry haven't yet been worked out – the job was two days old at the time of the interview last week – but Fraser envisions weekly 'family dinners,' where working families could come down to the Valois church and enjoy a leisurely, wholesome meal without the hassle of preparation beforehand and cleaning up afterwards. In addition, the meals would help break the cycle of isolation for seniors or other singles living alone whose eating habits may have suffered because they are no longer cooking for a partner or a family, Fraser added.
"We're trying to reach out beyond the boundaries of the congregation and bring in people who aren't necessarily part of the church community," Fraser said.
Prevost said she sees her mandate as part outreach and part internal – helping educate parishioners and the public on healthy eating, the latent dangers of prepackaged food and the social aspect of a well-made meal.
"Food is sharing and it's comfort. Human beings need it to survive, but they also need to interact socially to nourish their soul," she said. "I plan on going out into the community and seeing what is going on with food in the community," she said.
Prevost added she plans on expanding the small St. Columba garden next spring as well, with an eye toward teaching the community about sustainable, small-scale agriculture.
Next weekend's Marché St. Columba – the church's annual country fair and craft sale -- has been refocused toward selling wholesome, delicious home-baked fare (although artisans are still present), said fair co-ordinator Wendy Davies. There's one very good reason for that, she said.
"The best conversations in life happen in the kitchen," she said, " and some of the bext moments in life come when you sit down at the table and don't get up for hours. Food allows human beings to meet, greet and gather, in order to nourish themselves spiritually, physically and emotionally," she said.
For more information on the St. Columba by-the-Lake food ministry, contact the church at 514-697-2091.