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Marlene Froese uses her interest in food service to provide a weekly noon hour meal service in the MCC Centre. Joanie Peters

Marlene Froese uses her interest in food service to provide a weekly noon hour meal service in the MCC Centre. Joanie Peters

How about some home-cooked food and a bit of MCC?

Gladys Terichow
January 15, 2008

SASKATOON, Sask.—Every Wednesday the aroma of a home-cooked meal fills the atrium in the MCC Centre located in an industrial area on 45th street near this city’s airport.

As the noon hour approaches volunteers working in the material resource department put down their needles, scissors and packing tape and enjoy the camaraderie of eating together.

Friends and families celebrating birthdays or other special events join the ever growing number of people coming to the MCC office for this noon-hour meal.

People working in nearby industries take advantage of buying an affordable home-cooked meal within walking distance of their work place.

Marlene Froese, a retired teacher, started a catering business, Made Just For You, in 2001 and started preparing these weekly meals in the MCC Centre’s commercial kitchen in February 2005. “It is still unpredictable but we now prepare meals for 85 to 90 people.”

The atrium, a large entrance lobby for Ten Thousand Villages, MCC material resources and offices, has seating for about 50 people. When this space fills up people take their trays of food to the lounges and dining room facilities on the mezzanine floor.

The menu is different each week—menus include soup and pie, ethnic Mennonite meals and ethnic meals from other countries, especially France, Italy and Mexico. She said many meals are prepared using recipes from MCC’s new recipe book, Simply in Season.

“The food is excellent and the money goes to a good cause,” said Mirjana Dautbegovic, noting she and about 20 other employees from a business nearby take advantage of this weekly meal service in their neighbourhood.

“I come here whenever I can because it is a home-cooked meal, it’s very quick and very convenient,” said Jonathan Pauls. “It’s a nice change from sandwiches,” said another employee Owen Peddie.

But “food service is way bigger than food,” explained Froese. “It is about building community, interacting, listening, hearing stories, sharing stories and building relationships. Food service meets spiritual and emotional needs.”

Preparing and serving these noon hour meals, she said, “fill me with delight and pleasure. I don’t walk out of here thinking what an exhausting day I had. I always walk out of here feeling buoyant.”

This feeling, she explains, comes from knowing that she is using her abilities and her business to raise awareness of MCC programs and raise funds for MCC. “I don’t quilt blankets but I love cooking and I love being among people—if I can do this for MCC, I say, that’s cool.”

She is also helping MCC staff fulfill a dream to develop the atrium into a community gathering place.

“This is a place where we can create awareness about MCC, through Ten Thousand Villages, material resources and our displays,” says executive director Bruno Baerg. He explained that the office has been located in the same building since the early 1990s but that the renovations undertaken in 2004 make it possible for MCC to undertake these new ventures.

The idea for a weekly lunch program, he said, stemmed from the success of people supporting the Fair Trade Café that is located in the atrium and brown bag lunches that feature guest speakers.

“We just dream and let our dreams take their own course,” said Froese, as she talked about future plans for the lunch program. “This started as a dream and we’ll let it go where it will go.”