Christianne Fex has been cooking for guests at Out of the Cold Cafe throughout the pandemic, providing those in need with a warm meal.
The cafe, located on Frederick Street in Bradford, opened during the pandemic in response to the community's need for support services, food and temporary shelter.
One of the comforts guests can enjoy during each visit is a warm, fresh home-cooked meal in a safe space where they can socialize and connect with the community.
Since the kitchen at the cafe does not meet the health unit's food safety standards, they must rely on restaurants and third parties like local restaurants to supply the meals for guests.
Fex loves to cook, and when she heard the cafe was in need of more meals each week, she didn't hesitate to offer her help. Fex, a member of The Holy Martyrs of Japan Church, approached her pastor, who agreed to sponsor the meals, and offered Fex and her team of volunteers their commercial kitchen to use, as well as money to pay for the ingredients.
"Because we have a commercial kitchen at the church which is certified and approved, and there are individuals (on the volunteer team) who have their food safety (accreditation), it's a combination of the facility and the knowledge and then we are allowed to cook for our friends here," said Fex.
There are four teams who work with the church to create a meal plan for the week. Fex likes to mix up the menu every week, offering a variety of flavours to the guests. Some of her team's favourite meals to make include stews and Sheppard's Pie.
"We try to go with a protein-rich, comfort food," explained Fex.
Fex has extensive experience in the food industry. She and her husband used to own the local restaurant Don Cherry's, now called Perfect SZN, before selling it over to their son, Eric and his friend Jason Farrugia.
"It's (food) a big passion for my whole family, and continues to be a passion of mine," said Fex.
"It felt like it was a perfect fit," she said about the opportunity to cook for the guests of the cafe, combining her passion for cooking with her love of volunteering. "There is this sense that God is unfolding things anyway."
She looks at her services as a part of a larger puzzle, helping the greater good.
"It's just meeting the need," explained Fex. "It's not any one thing or one person...you see there is a beautiful wisdom that is happening to bring the right people together in the right circumstances together to provide."