While the Tiny Home Takeout kitchen has “hit the ceiling” on its food production, the team at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church intends to further its growth outwards into the community.
Tiny in name and stature, the “grab a bite when you need, donate what you can” kitchen’s growth has been anything but since opening its doors in February 2021. From Tuesday to Saturday, volunteers serve close to 700 portions of food a night between a 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. window. During the summer, the kitchen welcomes close to 200 people a day.
"What I love about Tiny Home Takeout, it's not so much the growth in volunteers but it's this space,” said Head Chef Amy Cyr. “It’s provided everybody a safe space to come and do good in the community, but also be surrounded by people and still, you know, afford themselves the time to socialize at the time where everything was closed and going out was just like really not possible.”
In May 2022, Tiny Home Takeout officially partnered with Going Mobile KW, a volunteer community outreach group providing support to unhoused people in Kitchener-Waterloo. That support includes a nightly delivery of a nutritious meal; while the kitchen initially provided 60 “bites” a night, that has since grown to 100.
“We're trying to help as many people as possible so it feels really good waking up in the morning knowing that I'm going to work and hopefully making even the tiniest little bit of difference,” said Cyr. “But we have been extremely busy and so, it's one of those things that I know all these things are happening but it definitely takes a moment to sink in.”
Tiny Home Takeout will host its second annual Hunger No More Festival in 10 days, a free food event where community members can visit a food booth and leave with a free bite (or purchase more). Although the festival started in the midst of the pandemic when most events were cancelled, volunteers “took a shot and everything turned out really well.”
“We had a really large number of not only participants during the event but also attendees on the day of the event,” said Cyr. “And so this year we really wanted to reproduce that but try and make it a little bit bigger now that you know people are going out and about.”
Cyr has been approached by several of last year's attendees, in addition to new vendors and food trucks. While the event focuses on food, there will be several unrelated artisanal vendors and the kid's section has expanded to include a professional face painter and balloon animal artist.
“We're just trying to beef it up a little bit, especially now that organizations and people are in a better position than they were last year,” said Cyr, who has been balancing the festival on top of back-to-school emails about co-op placements. “Once the fundraiser has been wrapped up, we’ll have a little bit more time to concentrate on the in-kitchen programs because right now we're all kind of running around like chickens with our heads cut off.”
Hunger No More will run Sunday, September 11, 2022; 11:00 a.m to 4 p.m. Donations can be made here. Participating food trucks will be charging a fee for food, but a portion of the funds collected will be donated to St. Mary's Parish. Details regarding participating restaurants, vendors, and musical performances can be found on their website.