“It’s a matter of ‘Do I pay my rent and utilities, or do I buy food?’ Well, Agape Table can help with the food, so that our patrons can concentrate on making sure they have a roof over their heads.”
Agape Table is always in need of support. Dave Feniuk has been the general manager at Agape Table for the past eight years. Agape means “unconditional love” in Greek, precisely what Dave and his team strive to provide for every guest, every day.
Incorporated in 1980, the organization began when a Winnipeg couple saw people going hungry, and responded by handing out sandwiches. Since then, this registered Canadian Charity has grown exponentially, serving the city of Winnipeg and beyond.
“We encompass the marginalized community of Winnipeg. We are situated in the West End, but our reach is far and wide.” Feniuk continues. “We serve anybody and everybody. It’s the single parent. It’s the newcomers. It’s the people that were displaced by the floods. People falling on hard times with the cost of living going up almost 8%. Inflation is killing everybody right now.”
Feniuk began crunching the numbers back in 2016. That year, Agape Table fed 66,000 people.
In 2019, they served a little over 85,000 meals. When the pandemic hit, they changed their serving model to handing out bag lunches at the door in an attempt to keep both volunteers and patrons safe. That year, records showed 109,000 meals served. The numbers rose again in 2021 to 126,000.
“We just finished our year-end projections, and we’re looking at between 133,000 and 135,000 bag lunches for 2022,” Feniuk states.
Regarding volunteer hours and commitment, Feniuk says it’s up to the individual.
“It’s volunteer for a reason. If you can give us an hour, we’re good with that. If you can make it on a regular basis, we would absolutely work around your schedule. If you can only give us 15 minutes, you are welcome here. But I warn you- we’re ecstatic about our volunteers!”
Volunteer tasks include food prep, packaging bag lunches, and serving at the front door.
Unsurprisingly, the non-profit’s top needs are food, time, and money.
“Without food… we can’t do what we do. With costs going up… money is always needed. But most importantly,” Feniuk emphasizes, “I want people to experience the magic of what we do… and give us their time. I honestly feel that, over and above the food, if you can get in here and watch the magic happen, your eyes will be opened.”
“We've been around for 42 years. The need is getting greater. I'd love to be out of a job,” Feniuk jokes, “But it's not a reality. I'd like to see people get back to grassroots. Instead of the stigma that goes around the marginalized community, treat them like people. You never know where that turn in their life happened, or what happened. And more than the bag lunch, the people coming to us are looking for that positive interaction. Because it might be the only positive interaction they get that day.”
“It’s really important for us to be here.”
To support the good work of Agape Table, visit www.agapetable.ca.