Agape Table is receiving 740 chicken dinners for their clients this afternoon with a big display of generosity from a local restaurant.
Valerie and Brian Funk own some Smitty's restaurants in Winnipeg and the Robert Dyck family own some in Steinbach. Together they decided to make dinners for people passing through Agape Table in Winnipeg.
"One of our regular volunteers is good friends with Val but it actually goes back to the golf tournament we host every year. Val came out and helped support us then and we forged a relationship there," says Dave Feniuk, the General Manager at Agape Table.
Valerie was inspired by one of the volunteers.
"We knew one of the volunteers. She impacted us with stories she's shared with us, with all the different people she's come in contact with, and we know they're just hungry," says Funk.
Early this morning the crew of 10 people cooked everything in two Smitty locations, around 4:30 am.
"Some of their managers and cooks came down and were working feverishly at 6:30 this morning, putting together these meals," says Feniuk.
The team put together takeout boxes which included chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, buns, and different squares for dessert. By the afternoon they had handed out 660 of them.
"You get overwhelmed sometimes. If somebody is willing to do something for Agape, we'll turn over and make it happen. Winnipeg is a large city with a small-town mentality. When somebody goes down it's the next man up mentality," says Feniuk.
In 2020 they served a little under 109,000 meals to people in need. In 2019 they served just under 75,000 so their need grew exponentially since the pandemic.
"We're seeing a lot of new people and new families because they don't have the disposable income they once did," says Agape Table's GM.
With the lockdown allowing for takeout and deliveries only, the restaurant business has also taken a hit since the pandemic started.
"I guess the biggest reason is we don't ever want to forget to give back, even when it's been a hard year. Restaurants have probably gone through one of the most difficult years we've ever been in, and still, we get support from people ordering takeout, with our delivery drivers. With all the people that are still ordering from us, we want to make sure that we give back as well," says Funk.
Agape Table has been helping feed people in need since 1980. They give food to people who are housed at risk, homeless, working, low-income seniors, single parents, persons with disabilities, and newcomers.
"We've had to adjust a lot over the last year. We were feeding 350 people a sit-down meal and now we're serving a bagged meal. When Smitty's jumped up and wanted to help, we just wanted to know how fast and what they needed to make it work," Feniuk says.
The staff from Smitty's brought enough food for 740 meals. The leftovers are going into tomorrow's soup so there is no waste.