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The Everyone Eats Brandon meal program will be going on pause after this week as organizers try to figure out the next steps.
The program, which is co-run by Brandon University, Assiniboine Community College and the John Howard Society of Brandon, has been offering dinners to locals three times a week during the past couple of months in exchange for donations.
A suggested donation of $8 per meal was asked for, with those who could pay more asked to chip in to subsidize those without the means to do so.
However, BU’s director of food services, Nicholas Namespetra, told the Sun on Monday that donations haven’t been sufficient to cover the costs of running the program.
This pause in operations will allow the initiative to take stock of how many people they’ve helped and what their future needs are.
"We need the data to show potential investors what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and who we’re reaching," he said. "It’s going to take some time because we’re gonna be analyzing what we’ve done over the last eight weeks.
"We’re going to do our calculations: where the money came from, how everyone’s contribution was used. We know how much was put towards advertising, how much has been put in towards labour, but we want to make sure we have the two months’ worth of data to really look at it and find the best course of action."
Donations from groups like the Canola Growers of Manitoba and Winnipeg Harvest have been extremely helpful to Everyone Eats, he said, adding the donation of food from Winnipeg Harvest was so big that it covered all of the meals they provided during an entire week.
He believes the increase shows how many people are in need of a low-cost food program like this.
After the first week in operation, Namespetra told the Sun that the program had served approximately 100 meals a day. He said that demand had increased substantially, with 250 to 270 meals going out every day they’re in operation.
"A lot of them are people who need the program to be running," he said of the users. "They also don’t have the funds to spare to be able to meal-it-forward."
While the program is going on hiatus, Namespetra said that he doesn’t intend for this to be the end.
"I’m pretty happy with where we’re going," he said. "I don’t think I’m satisfied yet with where we are, but we’re gonna get there eventually."
For this week’s menu, Wednesday will feature baked ham and scalloped potatoes, Thursday will have cilantro lime chicken with black beans and rice and will conclude on Friday with beef and vegetable stew with a cheddar biscuit.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark
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