100 meals in 100 days: Yarmouth offers free meals during winter

Eating together helps build stronger communities, says Mayor Pam Mood.

Eating together helps build stronger communities, says Mayor Pam Mood

The Town of Yarmouth plans to serve a free community meal daily for the next 100 days to help people with their food costs and build a stronger community. (CBC)

A hot meal on a cold day.

The Town of Yarmouth aims to provide just that over 100 days of winter, beginning Sunday.

Mayor Pam Mood said the concept occurred to her after she noticed that different groups provide meals weekly and monthly in the town. She wondered what would happen if everyone joined forces.

"I just looked and I thought, 'My goodness, we just need to connect the dots and in the coldest days of winter, could we not as a community provide one meal a day?' I said, 'How about 100 days?' And that's when it was born."

The aim is to make the meals accessible to as many people as possible and without any stigma.

'Everyone is welcome'

"The biggest group I want to reach are those who would never, out of pride or any other reasons, want to go to a food bank or any of these meals," Mood said.

Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood says the meals, which begin Sunday, are for everyone. (Peter Dawson/Radio-Canada)

"Stories about people having to make a choice between eating and heating their homes, buying medication … that breaks my heart. They are doing the best with what they have, trying not to use the system, and I think they suffer the most."

She compared the meals to school breakfast programs.

"Everyone is welcome. Over a meal, you bond, you create community, you come together."

Volunteers needed

The town has called for volunteers to help set up, shop, cook, serve, clean up and provide transportation for the meals.

The Mayor's task team is looking for donations for the $500 cost of each meal and gift cards for the food. Tax receipts are issued for all donations.

Service groups such as the Lions Club, Knights of Columbus and HOPE Centre, as well as local churches, are providing the space for the meals.

Activities such as music and games will also be added to attract diners.

'It may take a few tries'

"Over a meal, people are smiling. They are just glad to be there — if we provide the right atmosphere. This is nothing more than a meal. It may take a few tries. It could be 10, it could be 100 [attending]," Mood said.

A schedule of where and when the meals will be served has already been drawn up and will be available soon on the town's website.

"If you're ever down this way, at least you know you can eat," the mayor said.

With files from Maritime Noon