No such thing as a free lunch, you say?

Not in Kentville, N.S., where the Canadian Mental Health Association's Kings County branch has a freezer set up outside in Centre Square and is letting residents know soup's on.

Since the first of July, the freezer and a second one in nearby Designer Café have been stocked weekly with meal-sized portions of soup in an effort to draw attention to the issue of food security in the community.

Sarah Hiltz with the CMHA said the association and community partners sponsor the program, which isn't a new idea.

"All over the country, all over the world, there's lots of programs like this. I think I had seen this over in Europe — free fridges that people could put their leftovers in and others could take it," she said.

Free produce

Ingredients for the soup come from the Kentville Community Garden initiative and its community planters, which grow fresh produce free of charge for anyone who needs it.

Hiltz said the program was adapted to service the needs of the Kentville area.

"In the summer, the soup kitchen in town doesn't run, the [Valley Community Learning Association] is closed down for the summer, there's no schooling," she said.

"If you're not having a breakfast program at school, where are you getting your food?"

Soup, gazpacho and spaghetti sauce

This week the freezers have been filled with soup, gazpacho and spaghetti sauce.

The food is prepared by chef Rodney Weisner at Designer Café, but the initiative is also about learning what to do with fresh ingredients.

"It's not about the soup, it's about the learning of it. I can teach people to grow gardens, but Rodney can teach people how to cook them, cook the vegetables," Hiltz said.

There are also weekly cooking sessions open to the public.

"Everybody's welcome. Everybody comes, we cook together, we learn together," Hiltz said.

The freezer will stay in Centre Square as long as weather permits.

"We need to have a place where food is accessible, for everyone. It can't just be a freezer. Wouldn't be nice if it was actually a restaurant?" Hiltz said.