Toronto Community Kitchen soon to come to fruition with help from $34,000 in My Community Project funding

THE new Toronto Community Kitchen is close to opening.

Once a week, the kitchen will provide free hot meals and a food bank service to local families and individuals in financial distress, the elderly, and homeless.

St Joseph's Toronto parish leader Brendon Mannyx said the kitchen was on track to open within weeks.

"We're preparing to cater for up to 40 people at a meal, to start with," Mr Mannyx said.

The kitchen was one of three projects in Lake Macquarie to earn state government funding through the My Community Project scheme.

Communities in each NSW electorate were invited to vote for the local projects they deemed most deserving of funding.

Toronto Community Kitchen topped the vote in Lake Macquarie, and received $34,000.

The other successful projects in Lake Macquarie were the Coal Point Nature Space and Community Hub ($198,086) and Caring for Carers, a carer support group respite program, in Cooranbong ($20,000).

St Joseph's community engagement coordinator Bev McWilliam said it was heartening to receive such strong community support for the kitchen.

"To see the number of votes this project got was really affirming," Ms McWilliam said.

"We've had a wonderful response from parishioners, and external sources as well."

St Joseph's boasts an array of buildings on its leafy site at Kilaben Bay, including a community centre with a commercial kitchen and dining area that will prove the ideal setting for the new service.

The funding will help with the provision of specialised equipment including a commercial freezer, bane marie and a dishwasher, as well as food.

Toronto Community Kitchen will be run by volunteers supported by the Catholic Church's Development and Relief Agency (DARA), which operates five similar kitchens, including one in Maitland.

Mr Mannyx said the secluded location of the kitchen, in the grounds of St Joseph's Primary School, off Wangi Road, was ideal.

"The remote site is a plus," he said.

"We're giving people a space in a beautiful bushland setting. We'll look at helping people with their transport needs, potentially using the parish bus.

"It will be nice to welcome people here, and to share what we have."

Ms McWilliam said the kitchen would be all about "food, friendship and conversation".

It's hoped the kitchen would become a place where new friendships and contacts were made, and referrals were available to local support services, she said.

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