We have received such a wonderful outpouring of support so far for our crowdfunding campaign to revitalise the Abbotsford kitchen! We are constantly blown away by the generosity and interest of our community, and hope that for the remaining days of the campaign we will see much more of the same. Raising money for our kitchen is an important step in seeing that Lentil As Anything continues its work at the Abbotsford Convent for years to come.
Lentil As Anything started in the year 2000, and it’s positive impact on community and cohesion among people was noted by many. When the Convent site was saved after a long community battle, Lentil was invited by the custodian of the site to come and set up a restaurant. This occurred 11 years ago and the restaurant was set up on limited funds, and relied on good will and hard work by volunteers to open its doors.
Initially the Convent was a quiet place and it was thought that a restaurant like Lentil as Anything, where food, art and culture are key, would be a good fit for the vision of the Convent space. Over the years the wide range of cultures, ages and occupations of the people attracted to Lentil helped to put the Convent on the map, and Lentil As Anything Abbotsford became a very busy site. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and open every day of the year, Abbotsford Lentil attracts thousands of people a week, and on busy days can serve up to 2000 meals. It prides itself on putting people before money, trusting people to pay what they can, and ensuring its space is vibrant and full of life, including live music, poetry, exhibitions and theme nights.
Run by a very small team of staff and supported by hundreds of volunteers to achieve its daily success, Lentil As Anything Abbotsford has seen many start off in a bad way turning their lives. Through Visa sponsorships, volunteer training programs and an open door policy to accept all and not pass judgement, Lentil As Anything is achieving positive social outcomes that is proven to contribute more than $5 back into society for every $1 put in the donation box.
As Lentil As Anything became increasingly popular the infrastructure in the restaurant had to adapt and try to keep up with demand. Around four years ago the kitchen floor coverings were replaced but sadly the walls were not sealed up to standard, and water crept in under the new $10,000 flooring. We believe that a drain is required and proper drainage points will also allow us to clean the kitchen to a higher standard. The kitchen is “where the magic happens” yet the space is now too small, and in need of many repairs and an upgrade, including opening an access way for food service and a different one for stores and dishes. This will improve efficiency and flow, increase safety and be more aesthetically pleasing. Other essential works include moving the cool store out of the kitchen area to provide additional preparation space in which to train and mentor volunteers, a more efficient wet area for washing dishes, more hand-washing basins, and a proper pass area with heat lamps to keep food warm.
Having out-grown our space and poured ourselves into providing for others, it’s time for the Lentil As Anything team to get an upgraded kitchen and store area, and attract new socially minded customers, so they too can enjoy a meal “where everyone deserves a place at the table”.