Photo by Chiot's Run/Flickr

Community café offers “a different kind of foodbank”

Fresh vision for sharing with others creates welcoming atmosphere

WINNIPEG, MB—A Wolseley church is taking a different approach to running a food bank.

In November, Winnipeg’s Westminster Church opened the Bell Tower Community Café, a food bank that aims to de-emphasize the difference between those who need food assistance and those who do not. Open biweekly, the café features wholesome food, fresh coffee and live music to create an atmosphere where people can come together, meet and serve one another.

Meaghan Pauls, community café coordinator, says her vision is threefold: to welcome, create and share.

“The café experience allows us to hopefully make a new community and break down some barriers in terms of who’s using these services,” says Pauls, who runs the café along with Greg Glatz, the community minister at Westminster.

“We were looking to create a different experience than one that just distinguishes between who needs food and who doesn’t. The café gives people the opportunity to mix and mingle.”

The idea for the café emerged out of theology courses Pauls was taking at the University of Winnipeg where Glatz was her instructor. Class discussions included talking about what the Church looks like in the 21st century as well as what opportunities for ministry the Church has today.

“We talked about … what a different kind of food bank could look like, where people receive not just a handout, but an experience in a welcoming environment,” Pauls says.

Westminster Church, Winnipeg Harvest, community residents, Winnipeg businesses, local musicians and non-profits are partnering together to make the Bell Tower a reality.

The café launched on November 22, and Pauls says the experience so far has been positive.

“It was a great turnout,” she says. “In terms of the atmosphere, it felt like an environment we were hoping to achieve and that [has] a lot of potential. So many people were just eager to jump on board and help.”

The café is open every other Friday from 6:30-8 p.m. on the second floor concert hall of Westminster Church (745 Westminster Avenue at Maryland Street).

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About the author

Special to ChristianWeek

Aaron Epp is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer, Musical Routes columnist, and former Senior Correspondent for ChristianWeek.