Paula Marsch has teamed up with Myra Gerbrandt from Steinbach Community Outreach to put together some amazing meals that will go right back to Outreach to give to members of our community in need.
"Things have picked up a little bit with the warmer weather", Gerbrandt explained. "People are coming in and actually cooling off from the heat, so that's been really neat to see some people we haven't seen in a while. But, that also means our needs are growing. Specifically, the need for food."
Gerbrandt says the demand for hampers has gone up quite a bit. "We have been giving out around 460 food hampers a month. We go through a lot of things like frozen casseroles."
That's where Paula comes in.
"It just so happens I retired for a second time and one of my passions happens to be cooking," Paula says with a big smile and chuckle. "As they say, do what you love and it's not work. So, I went looking around Steinbach to see if there were some programs I could get into and Outreach is a really great program for me. I'm able kind of make whatever I want off the donations they have been given. I'm able to get some ingredients, my husband has donated some ingredients, too. It's a really great thing and I really like doing it."
Marsch's culinary skills come in handy because the meals she makes are based on what the Outreach gets in donations which makes it a unique and fun challenge. "The donations come in, we'll check in and see what they have and it's like I get to play grocery games. I go to the pantry and see they have this and this and this, so I'm going to make this. After that, I just use my imagination and create. When I do batch cooking, I do 20-24 servings. A lot of time, there's no recipe, it's all look, taste, and feel."
Having people like Paula giving back makes such a massive positive impact says Gerbrandt. "Our freezers get emptied really quickly so to have anyone reach out and want to cook is phenomenal. We have the most amazing cooks in this community. Our guests eat well and they compliment the food all the time."
It really comes down to the food donations and Gerbrandt is quick to toss out praise to those who have stepped up to help out. "Shout out to the farmers that donate to some beef. Shut out to Country Meat and Deli, we just got a massive donation from them and it makes all the difference for us."
Gerbrandt adds that donations are really what's keeping them going and is encouraging more to help as they can. "We've been relying on grant money to be able to buy some of the pantry teams but that grant money is completely out. We value donations of food or pantry items so highly. Rice, cheese, pasta, we just welcome it all. We're at 345 Loewen Boulevard, we're out of Steinbach Mennonite Church and we have our own entrance, people can come in, drop off, learn or even help by giving their time."