Due to a generous donation from the Frank J. Flaman Foundation, on Friday, February 3, 2017 Boyle Street Community Services held the Forgotten Feast. This is an annual event for the community organization that provides a warm and hearty meal for Edmonton’s most vulnerable populations. Though Boyle Street Community Services is typically not able to host a meal service in the evening, in the early winter each year the agency holds a Forgotten Feast in partnership with the local business community. The name of the event originated from the decrease in donations the agency receives following the end of the holiday season. It is a time of year that is generally the coldest and when the fewest resources are available. The event has significant meaning to the clients, staff, and volunteers at Boyle Street Community Services. The Forgotten Feast provides an opportunity for not only a wholesome meal but also for the community to gather together in support and companionship.
This year, support from the Frank J. Flaman Foundation purchased all of the food for the feast, which included roast beef and many healthy vegetables. The event was facilitated by Boyle Street Community Services and the Indigenous and Global Health Research Group at the University of Alberta, who worked as volunteers during the event to aid in preparing and serving the nutritious and delicious meal. Dr. Sangita Sharma leads the group and is the Endowed Chair of Indigenous Health and a Centennial Professor in the Department of Medicine. She and the members of her team were glad to be able to participate and are very grateful for Flaman’s kind gift. The highlight of the dinner was the roast beef. As Sharma’s work has shown, beef is a very nutrient dense food that contains large amounts of vitamin B12, zinc, and iron and is a very cost-effective and culturally appropriate way of addressing nutritional inadequacies. As we know, many of the clients served by Boyle Street Community Services have limited access to healthy food sources and rely on inadequate nutrition options throughout most of the year. The beef provided at this meal, along with other nutrient-dense foods, was very well received.
Sharma and her team are thrilled to be partnering with Boyle Street Community Services to improve the health and wellness of vulnerable peoples in the community. She has recently received funding from the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation to work with Boyle Street and several other community organizations to identify what barriers exist for vulnerable peoples when accessing services and to examine opportunities to improve experiences and availability of services. The goal is to inform current programs and policies to directly meet the needs and priorities of the community. The dinner on Friday evening marked the beginning of this work, and Sharma and Boyle Street Community Services are very grateful to the Flaman Foundation for sponsoring the Forgotten Feast in 2017.