NEWS

Ten Ten Tapas soup kitchen opens for new Vancouver shelter residents

01/08/2015 09:23 EST | Updated 03/10/2015 05:59 EDT
When the city announced the building formerly occupied by the Quality Inn on Howe Street in Vancouver was to become a temporary housing shelter, the reaction from some local Yaletown residents was far from positive.

Just around the corner, on the Seawall, the owners of Ten Ten Tapas restaurant felt differently, grasping the opportunity to become more involved in the community and help those in need — and reduce food waste at the same time.

They launched a soup kitchen, to be hosted once a month and, so far, it has proven a success, with two full seatings at each lunch so far.

"[It's a] very simple process for me in the kitchen with the buildup of food. I'm cooking all the time, utilizing all my product," said chef Matthew Phillip of the free meals.

Restaurant owner Derek Olemann said the response has made the effort completely worthwhile.

"Just coming in here, and being treated with respect and being served by us, a hot bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich and an unlimited pop, made them feel great," he said.

There has been some criticism of the soup kitchen, but Olemann said people should separate the issue of the new shelters and the restaurant's decision to try and help the new residents.

"If people have problems with how it was set up, or how it was run, well that's to discuss, to have an open discussion with the city about how those shelters were erected."

The Howe Street shelter was one of two that opened before Christmas in the area, prompting packed meetings of furious residents, who complained of a lack of consultation.

Some business-owners say there has been a rise in vandalism since the opening and nearby schools and daycares have expressed concern over syringes in parks and playgrounds.

Veronica Madore is a local resident who co-founded Save Our Neighbourhood in opposition to the new shelters back in October.

"We're going to put together a coalition of all the neighbourhood and business associations," she told CBC News. "And we are going to try to find one voice that goes to the city that hopefully the mayor and his management will actually talk to."

Cory, a resident of one of the new shelters, said it's helped him get back on his feet, and that it can help others to do the same.

"I work here part-time because they gave me a job when I turned my life around, and I like to help people out," he explains. "I actually like this place because it's saved my life in a number of ways."

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