Kitchen manager celebrates 30 years serving meals at Victoria shelter

Kitchen staff at Our Place Society prepare Thanksgiving meals on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (CTV Vancouver Island)

VICTORIA -- As Our Place Society hosts its annual Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings, kitchen manager Brian Cox celebrates 30 years serving up food to Victoria's most vulnerable.

“He’s been with us since the very beginning and he still does a fantastic job of feeding hundreds and hundreds of people,” said Our Place spokesperson Grant McKenzie.

Around 600 people are expected to sit down for the annual Thanksgiving meal at Our Place Thursday afternoon. Cox and a team of as many as 80 volunteers have been chopping vegetables for days in preparation.

Cox said it takes a lot of energy and coordination to pull off meals like this, but it’s all worth it. “A lot of patience, a lot of laughs, and have some fun while you do it; that’s the key.”

He said he feels rewarded by the years of helping others. 

“There’s an empty tummy out there hurting, and we’re putting nourishment into someone’s tummy so hopefully they can make better choices in their day," he said. "It’s very rewarding for me.”

When asked if there’s a favourite dish after 30 years of making three meals per day seven days per week, Cox chuckled. 

“No, they’re all beautiful. The next one is always the most important.”

He does appreciate his time working at Our Place since 1989. “It’s been a great time, I’ve always enjoyed it. I love coming to work, I meet the nicest volunteers. The people we feed are worthy of our time, and it’s great to be around them.”

Folks enjoying the hot meal Tuesday afternoon were feeling very thankful for the food, company, and laughs surrounded by what they call their family.

Gordy, who spents a lot of time at Our Place, was enjoying his meal surrounded by friends. Holding back happy tears, he told CTV: “Here you’ll have a meal, and you’ve got family. It’s really nice. I really like this place.”

Meanwhile, having just finished his turkey dinner and about to enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie, Greg Tupman said: “It’s a family atmosphere, it’s a nice time of the year to get together with everybody and have a meal like this.”

Our Place says an estimated 1,000 pounds of turkey, 500 pounds of potatoes, 250 pounds of stuffing, 200 pounds of vegetables, 25 gallons of gravy, 55 pounds of cranberry sauce, 125 pumpkin pies, and 1,500 cups of coffee were prepared for the meal.

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