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Welcomed to the Table

Barefootlove / Food  / Welcomed to the Table

Welcomed to the Table

“What’s for lunch?”

“We’re making a stew with wheat, potatoes, onions, and _ plant… and cucumber, we’re going

to make a cucumber salad.”

“You’re helping with the soup today?”

“Yeah, I’m preparing the meat. I’m the chopper.”

Every Monday, The Dale cooks lunch for 120 people individuals who lack food security in the Parkdale neighbourhood. This Toronto neighbourhood has been gentrified, and for many who call Parkdale home, places that used to be affordable to eat and to live have now become unaffordable. The Dale offers a safe place for those often left behind in gentrification, people who are struggling with homelessness, addictions, and mental illnesses. One safe place is The Dale’s Monday Drop-in and Community Lunch.  

“It is here that you can see what it means for our people to be invited into ‘full participation’. Many of our community members, aka volunteers show up around 9:30 am. A huge urn of coffee is put on to perk, tables are set and food prep begins. Souad, our Volunteer Kitchen Coordinator guides the action by asking her “sweeties” and “munchkins” to chop the vegetables and get things in the pots. As she so often says, The Dale kitchen is not her’s, but ours. And she’s right. Just before 1 pm, we bring platters of food to every table and ask that each person ensure its fair distribution, at the end of the meal we are all invited to take our dirty dishes to some big bins of soapy water by the kitchen. We give a round of applause to the many people who have helped on that day, explaining this is a meal for the community, by the community. People routinely comment on how restorative eating healthy food is. I am convinced that something special happens when people sit around a table sharing food.”

As a community organization, The Dale is a church without walls. It seeks to be welcoming and empowering to all, especially those experiencing poverty of spirit or space. Their drop-in programs and outreach are run by community members, of all backgrounds and abilities, for their community. All programming happens in partnership with local organizations and outside on the street.

Hear from Erin and Joanna about the work they do at The Dale:

“At The Dale, we are very aware that we are a large, beautiful network of people. Our core community is comprised mainly of folks who call Parkdale home, or are in the neighbourhood regularly. We see each other several days of the week, and do life together in a fairly intensive way. These folks come from all over the city, and sometimes even from outside of town. They add to the richness of our communal life, bringing their unique perspectives, experiences, gifts and vulnerabilities. There are other people who we know we can call upon for extra support when we need it. These folks work at places like Sanctuary, The Gateway men’s shelter, a law office, a medical clinic, or another community agency. They help with drop-ins or outreach when Erinn or I can’t be there, provide services that we aren’t able to offer, lend a listening ear or offer insight into a tricky situation. These various groups of people overlap in many beautiful ways, and each person is very much part of The Dale in their own way.” – Joanna

“It can be a difficult discipline to simply be with the one who is in pain. When people are struggling it is easy to fill up the air with platitudes. There are of course times when people want and ask for advice, or need to process out loud. I desire those things. What I’m learning is that I also need to be still, often with people who know and love me. In the stillness I am reminded that my circumstances do not outweigh my inherent worth in God. This truth usually enables me to take a deep breath and carry on.” – Erinn

Through your purchases and support, Barefoot Love was able to support The Dale Ministries’ Monday Drop-in and Community Lunch in Parkdale, Toronto, Canada.

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