BY HIEKE MORTON, FOODS AND NUTRITION TEACHER

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not BIG enough.”

I know what it’s like to dream, but I also know what it’s like to not be able to pay my bills. I know what it’s like to get an eviction notice. I know what it’s like to lose my job and not find another one.

I also know what it’s like to not be able to afford to buy food. Being able to afford basic groceries has become a luxury that many families, single parents, and seniors can no longer afford.

This growing number of families and individual have become dependent on the food bank as their main source of groceries. Unfortunately, what most people do not realize is that the food bank was designed to be an emergency service. That means that people may only use the service once a month, at which time they will receive enough food to last for only three days. That leaves 27 days without access to fresh food!

Insert dream here…

Nothing robs people of their dignity quite like standing in a line to receive a handout that they have no choice or say in. As a parent who struggled to provide for my own children in the past, I know firsthand the importance of dignity around accessing food.

Starting in September, I will shift to teaching part-time. This will allow me the time and space to focus on opening a non-profit grocery store called Gathering Mar-KIT. It will provide the space and opportunity, for those who need it most, to purchase food at a very reduced cost in a beautiful environment.

The Gathering Mar-KIT will use donated and reclaimed food to create meal kits. An industrial kitchen will provide us with the space and equipment required to make these kits in addition to ready-made meals. The kits are important for removing the burden of having to budget or meal plan.

Anyone who has been on the receiving end of a meal train knows what a blessing a ready-made meal can be. It takes the pressure off having to plan, shop, and prepare food. The Gathering Mar-KIT will meet this need, by turning rescued food into healthy meals sold at an affordable price to families and seniors.

Now what does all this have to do with ACS?

A couple of years ago, as part of the foods program, my grade 12 class launched ACCESS Foods. We purchased a freezer (with donations from you!) and sold what was made in class back to the families within our community. This program also allowed us to meet the needs of families and individuals facing all sorts of challenges and to bless those families with meals and baking for free.

This way of learning and cooking as a means of service changed everything! Students took pride and ownership in what they made. The “all about me” attitude shifted and the classroom became a place of service.

The Gathering Mar-KIT is my vision and my dream to do the same on a larger scale. The Lord has been faithful in helping this dream become reality as many of the pieces are falling into place.

The Mar-KIT could provide students with many opportunities for real world learning and not only by cooking food! Yes, students could cook the meals, package the kits, see firsthand the irritation of taking inventory, or even assist in hosting training kitchen nights for other teens. But what if the mechanics class could repair and maintain the Mar-KIT’s van? What if the woodworking class could build shelves? What if the art class could be inspired to create posters? And if the agricultural science class could tend the gardens? What about students who are looking for ways to volunteer? The possibilities and ideas for authentic learning are endless.

See? This dream is BIG!

Of course, we don’t know what the future holds or how the pandemic will affect our teaching and learning. But one thing we do know is that it is always the right time to meet the needs of the poor, the hungry, and the hurting. My teacher heart believes that giving students a chance to live this out in our community, outside of classroom walls, would be an incredibly valuable way to help our students shape God’s world.

If you are interested in learning more or supporting Gathering Mar-KIT check out:  www.gatheringmarkit.com