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Since ancient times, eating together has always been a transformative social glue. It’s a way to share your story with someone else, build trust and simply enjoy each other’s company.

We all have the desire to help, and we all need to accept help.

I have been on both sides of this exchange. At the age of ten, my parents and I left the Canadian Prairies after years of drought wiped out our family farming business. We packed our bags, moved to another province and started from scratch. We found a friendly neighborhood church that welcomed us and we made new friends there.

I recall looking forward to the potluck meals of cabbage rolls and mac ‘n cheese because they felt like “home”. It was nourishment for our souls. As we found our footing, we were the ones hosting meals and dropping off food to newcomers.

To this day, when I see a refugee family on the street clutching their suitcases, I recall just how that feels.

Ten years ago, at More Than A Roof, I met chef Hannes Tischhauser who shared his Soul Kitchen vision for building community through a simple meal.

The rest as they say, is history.

Lorne Epp

Soul Kitchen Today

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Soul Kitchen Food Ministry at More Than A Roof. In recognition of this, we are doing a series of interviews that explore this amazing story of the transformative power of a shared meal. Started by Chef Hannes Tischhauser in 2014, the work is now carried forward by Chef Levi Hopkinson and his team. Every month the kitchen provides over 1800 nutritious low-cost, no cost meals to the Candela, Kindred, and Karis communities and the surrounding neighborhoods. It is a coalition of corporate food donations, Foundation financial support, a skilled professional chef, trained interns, volunteers, and an always hungry crowd.

We recently caught up to founder Chef Hannes in Lucerne Switzerland where he and Louise now enjoy a busy retired lifestyle. He agreed to a quick interview via What’s App.

1. What were some of the circumstances that led to your decision to move to Vancouver?

In 2011 we arrived in Vancouver and we saw Vancouver’s best and worst. The vivid pictures of the needy folk on the streets never really left me. As a heavy drinker during those days, I saw a great need in the city. After 20 years of sobriety, my wife Louise and I felt that we could make a difference in the Downtown Area, bringing people some hope and practical help – through food to the less fortunate in Vancouver.

2. How did your vision for serving vulnerable people come about?

I knew that God had a plan of working through my profession of being a Chef. I saw a German movie at an outdoor cinema which I was invited to. It hit me with great excitement as I saw the title of the movie and thus, the journey and purpose of Soul Kitchen began.

3. What memories stand out from your time in Vancouver?

The incredible connection with MTR was straight from Heaven, something which I never anticipated in my wildest dreams. I witnessed lives and attitudes change as they engaged with the work in the kitchen and the outreach work in the streets. There are a great number of people who benefit and appreciate the food that Soul Kitchen provides through donated grocery Items.

4. Anything else?

I miss everyone and the work we did together. I hope to visit you all when I can!

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