Here at The Mustard Seed, we like to say “hope begins with a meal.” And this year, it’s never been more true.

After living through the pandemic, the most vulnerable in our community were in urgent need of warmth, comfort, and encouragement. But a hot meal is often the first step someone takes towards a new life, and a new beginning.

Across all of our Mustard Seed locations (Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, and Kamloops), over half a million (501,000+) meals were served to those in need.

In Calgary, we offer the most meal programs to date as this is where The Mustard Seed was originally planted. Today we offer three warm meals per day to our shelter guests, and snacks and emergency food items to those who visit our Downtown Support Centre, as well as our Marlborough Park Neighbour Centre. Additionally, because of our generous community and compassionate volunteers, throughout Christmas and Thanksgiving, we receive amazing turkey dinner donations that put a warm seasonal meal on the table for our neighbours in need. We are proud and honoured to say we serve over 18,000 meals monthly to individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness and poverty in Calgary.

In Edmonton, the pandemic brought on a new wave of hardships for those already struggling to make ends meet – a battle with food security. With public health orders to stay home, the need for meals was at an all-time high. Through the incredible support of donors, the Dinner2Door (D2D) initiative was launched to meet the needs of the community. D2D is a program that ensures vulnerable Edmontonians who are living in poverty have access to healthy and frequent meals. Since March 2020 (when it launched), over 61,000 nutritious meals have been prepared by staff and volunteers and dropped off at the doorsteps of people in need. On top of the D2D initiative, our community hubs serve nutritious meals and hot coffee to keep bellies full and minds sharp, all the while Mustard Seed staff operates the Food Bank out of our 96 St. Church and Mosaic Centre for families and individuals in need. Overall, today the motivated Mustard Seed Edmonton team serves 10,000+ meals every month!

In Red Deer, the School Lunch Program thrives! The pandemic presented many challenges for accessibility for schools, but we continued to address food security needs and worked in conjunction with school districts to ensure no child went hungry. This program assists families and schools with food security. The quality of food is essential and an important ingredient that contributes to the children’s success and development. Each day, around 425 students from 48 schools receive healthy and nutritious lunches, and in 2020, we provided over 59,000 lunches to students in seven different communities across Central Alberta!

In Medicine Hat, the need to pivot when the pandemic hit was essential. Feeding many members of the community who could no longer receive the meals they were accustomed to, the resilient Medicine Hat team made the innovative changes to fill the bellies of those in need by serving their meals out of the back of a trailer in their parking lot in order to abide by AHS protocols. Thanks to the amazing volunteers that came out to help and support the project, over 22,692 meals were distributed! Today, because of some extraordinary donors, we have renovated and created an incredible space to provide a daily feeding program once again for our neighbours in need. The newly built community kitchen offers over 2,000 meals every month to the vulnerable population in Medicine Hat.

In Kamloops, the kitchen at the Outreach Centre is the heart of The Mustard Seed! As the largest meal program in the city, we serve a hot nutritious lunch and dinner seven days a week for anyone who is in need. Sharing food and creating a welcoming atmosphere allows our staff an opportunity to build relationships with those we serve, ultimately allowing us to build and connect our guests with essential supports such as housing, healthcare, and spiritual care. This compassionate team serves over 8,700 meals every month to individuals who are experiencing homelessness and poverty.

These cities and their meal programs give hope to our neighbours in need. Sharing a warm meal can provide a full serving of not only relief but of opportunity. We at The Mustard Seed bear witness to what a full belly can do, and honour those who have helped us provide those life-changing meals.

Thank you to our donors, volunteers, sponsors, and anyone who has helped those who are struggling – your gifts are priceless.