A Calgary program that helps families prepare meals together to save money is expecting a surge in people needing their help, but says there isn't enough space in church and community centre kitchens.

The Community Kitchen Program of Calgary groups together eight to 10 families, helps them put together a two-week menu for healthy and affordable meals that can be frozen, then buys the groceries and finds kitchen space.

'The calls are coming in very rapidly now of people wanting to get involved.' —Marilyn Gunn

The 150 families that belong to the program pay for the groceries themselves and cook together.

Marilyn Gunn, who founded the the non-profit during the recession of the early 1990s, said she already has a waiting list of families struggling to get by from all parts of the city.

"The calls are coming in very rapidly now of people wanting to get involved," she said.

Demand will grow, warns founder

Many of the churches and community centres that usually provide group kitchens for free say they are too tapped with their own busy outreach programs, said Gunn.

"The need is growing rapidly. And I am really concerned about where it's going to go. I don't think this financial crunch is over. I can only see the demand growing greater and greater."

Once a month Jennifer Acevedo gets together with several families to plan and cook a freezer full of meals through the program. She figures she saves at least $200 a month on groceries.

"When things are precarious in the economy, we need to do what we can to tighten our belts and make sure that we're not spending more than what we have," she said.

Gunn said she is hoping to find a solution to the kitchen shortage before the organization turns too many more families away.