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Feeding the Need: The Phoenix Flame BBQ food truck

In late January of 2021, Phoenix Society launched our Mobile Community Kitchen to serve free meals to those in need amid the pandemic.

In just three short months we served more than 3,000 free meals to those experiencing poverty and living in homelessness in Surrey and the Tri-Cities, and as of July 12, the program has now served more than 5,500.

“It’s been incredible to see this project get underway, and to see the overwhelming support behind it,” said Keir Macdonald, CEO of Phoenix Society. “Everyone deserves a hot meal and we are thrilled to be able to help feed those in need during what is a very hard time for us all. Giving back and building community, connection and hope is what we are all about at Phoenix.”

The program operates out of a 16-foot food truck, dubbed Phoenix Flame BBQ, providing free community meals to those who are underserved, homeless or at risk of homelessness. The operation has capacity serve up to 100 meals per day (lunch or dinner) several times per week. On one particular outing, the kitchen served 178 meals in a single service.

We have served those who are unhoused, our neighbours living in shelters, as well as families living in poverty through partnerships created with local food banks.

Our program not only provides nutritious food to those in need but also provides dignity by offering an experience equivalent to food truck service that would be offered commercially to the general public. Those served have repeatedly expressed how grateful they were to have received the free meal service, and it served as a positive experience that was delivered with respect.

“We have served people from all walks of life,” said Prem. “All communities. When we see moms, dads, coming with children, and even seniors. The satisfaction we get is seeing the smiles on their faces. When they come to get their meals they’re very happy and appreciative of Phoenix Society.”

“For me, at the end of the day, you can put it simply one word – the gratification you get by being out there and serving residents in the community,” said Prem. “And so many Thank You’s we get.”

“It’s very satisfying.”

While the program came about due to the desire to serve hot meals to those who are vulnerable in the community, since its inception it has always been intended to provide employment opportunities to residents in recovery at Phoenix.

Since February, Phoenix resident Raj has been working with Prem in the Mobile Community Kitchen (pictured in photo above).

“I started with just doing dishes and helping prep. I’m doing more and more. Most of my time is on the truck,” said Raj, who has completed treatment at Phoenix and is now in our Transitional Housing Program.

“It’s great, the places we go to serve meals, and it’s a great feeling to be able to help,” said Raj. “It’s hard work,” he laughed. “It’s been quite a learning experience. But I’ve always wanted to help people. It has been a great thing for my own recovery to be able to do this work.”

Prior to his time in recovery, Raj worked as a dayshift supervisor at a plywood plant for nearly 20 years but he says he’s not planning to return to that line of work.

“I don’t want to have to deal with any more stress than I need to, so I’d love to spend more time on the truck. I just like the feeling of helping people.”

Phoenix Society would like to thank the many generous sponsors and funding partners that have helped make this project possible. They include the Envision Financial Community Endowment with First West Foundation, Reaching Home, the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society and Second Harvest. We acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia.