The lunch program in Saint John once run by disgraced former city councillor Donnie Snook has taken on a new look - and a new name.

For several years before his January arrest on multiple charges involving sexual abuse of children, Snook operated the so-called Chicken Noodle Club, a daily hot-lunch program for disadvantaged youth out of St. John the Baptist-King Edward Church.

Holly Singh

Holly Singh of the South End Lions Club says now that The Lunch Connection has a new kitchen, the club's attention will focus on keeping its shelves stocked with food. (CBC)

"We were all worried about what the future had to hold," said Mary MacKinnon.

The program has since been rebranded The Lunch Connection. It turned the page on the program's past Sunday with the unveiling of a new kitchen, boasting industrial-grade ovens and fridges.

"We're just shocked and just so pleased to see what has happened in the kitchen," said MacKinnon, the co-ordinator for The Lunch Connection.

The new equipment came thanks to money raised by the new South End Lions Club and Coun. Gerry Lowe, who replaced Snook on city council after winning a by-election to fill the seat.

New oven

The Lunch Connection received industrial-grade ovens, fridges and other equipment as part of its kitchen makeover courtesy of a fund-raising effort. (CBC)

"The kitchen here before were two little white kitchens that you'd have in your parent's house, right?" said Lowe. "And you can look around here today and see what we have, right?"

Holly Singh of the Lions Club says the next step will be keeping the kitchen cupboards stocked.

"It is a dream kitchen," she said. "But we need more. We need tabling, dishes, and right now we don't have dishes.

"But we're working on that, so now we need money to buy food."

Singh hopes the new kitchen will help a betrayed community heal.

Snook pleaded guilty to 46 charges involving sex crimes against children and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.