Buy a meal give a meal

By Jenn Watt

SIRCH Community Kitchen volunteers have been cooking up meals for neighbours in need for years but now they’re offering that same nutritious homemade food to anyone who wants to buy it.

Called Simply Homemade the program charges $5 for a homemade frozen meal with all of the proceeds going back into restocking the kitchen to continue the group’s work.

“The money that we make for those meals is going back into buying food to make more meals” says SIRCH food initiatives co-ordinator Alisha Lafleur.

“Our Community Kitchen program is our free meal program. Those meals get distributed to about 10 distribution sites which are our other partner organizations in the community who are linked to clients who get free meals from that program” she says.

Anyone can purchase a meal through the program and Lafleur says they’re a great substitute for frozen TV dinners. She’s seen the meals go out to busy single people with little time to cook seniors people buying meals for a neighbour in need or to feed people at a group meeting. Really any time a frozen dinner would be helpful.

The meals are made by volunteers at the SIRCH hub so expenses are relatively low Lafleur says. That means the money from the meals sold can go right back into buying groceries to make more meals.

Those who want a large number of meals should contact SIRCH ahead of time but for people who want to pick up a few dinners meals are available at the SIRCH Hub at 2 Victoria Street in Haliburton each Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. or every other Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

You can check out what the Community Kitchen has cooking by visiting and checking out the blog post each week.

For more information give SIRCH a call at 705-457-1742 or email

Cook It Up back next month

It’s not long now until Cook It Up a SIRCH program that takes over Baked and Battered on Mondays will be back in operation.

Starting Feb. 8 and running until April 25 the dining program that teaches students essential kitchen and serving skills while offering meals by donation to the community will be open to the public.

Alisha Lafleur food initiatives co-ordinator for SIRCH says last year’s program was enthusiastically received by the public who showed up in droves to eat lunches prepared by the class. The students ended up with experience and training that has helped them find employment.

This year there are 10 students who are currently in the classroom.

As part of their training they plan meals around particular types of cuisine.

“The trainees are the ones who plan all of those menus” says Lafleur.

“They come up with the theme that they want to do and what the menu’s going to be.”

Students present the idea to the team and work through the aspects of organizing a meal considering nutrition taste and availability in the community.

Thanks to local business Baked and Battered Cook It Up has a place to serve the lunch which is free.

Lafleur says the program fosters an “atmosphere of gratitude” which means visitors are asked to make a donation if they can or just enjoy the food.

The program runs each Monday starting Feb. 8 from 12 to 2 p.m. except for statutory holidays –  Feb. 15 (Family Day) and March 28 (Easter Monday).