Setup: 24-Oct-2011 
Although the three parks listed in our grant all had food programs, with the help of the grant, and some of it was home-cooked, the newer enabling food rules are still fragile and poorly worked out. A public kitchen seems to be preferred by most community cooks. CELOS mapped existing community kitchens in park buildings and city community centres, and tried to track down their current uses and availability. We found 44 kitchens so far. More than three-quarters of them are not available for use by the public. In many cases, they are kept locked and not used by anyone at all. A few are leased to commercial vendors, although not necessarily used for food – some are kept locked by vendors who prefer to offer vending machine snacks and lease the kitchen to keep it locked, perhaps to preclude competition. |
[story of EY arena snack bar]
In the case of the Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee, a supportive city public health worker took out a permit for the kitchen in the adjacent community centre on their behalf, since the centre’s staff seemed unenthusiastic in making the community kitchen available to neighbourhood cooks directly. Since most of these community centre kitchens were built originally to support community events and gatherings, we want to make two slide show/videos available for presentation: (1) an overview of existing community kitchens showing their blocks and their existing potential, (2) a how-to show about adding a simple kitchen to any existing field house and (3) the logistics of cooking and serving a weekly community supper, with park staff collaboration.
In summer 2012, one of the grant researchers spent two weeks working for a Luminato project that featured ingenious temporary soup kitchens, with festival participants drawn into cooking (and then eating) various kinds of soup. Every morning, the kitchen components were assembled and bolted onto ordinary shopping-cart frames. At the end of this very popular project, CELOS received three sets of the prep and cooking kits as a donation. We want to adapt this art project and take it on the road, to draw attention to the locked kitchens and field houses, and the possibilities of simple food for fostering neighbourhood social life in parks.