Restaurant in Canada offers free meals to people in need
Indian Fusion: serving people a meal with dignity
Indian Fusion is a small, family run restaurant located in downtown Edmonton, Alberta, and it’s standing out by schooling the surrounding food venues in kindness. While there are only ten tables inside, Indian Fusion is offering food and a nice place to eat for the neighborhood’s homeless community.
Restaurant owner Parkash Chhibber was inspired to change his restaurant format two years ago when he saw people digging through the restaurant’s trash bins. Dismayed, he invited them in for a meal--whenever they needed one.
Homelessness in Alberta:
Homelessness in Alberta is just as pervasive a problem as it is in other parts of North America. In total, Alberta provides around 17,000 homeless individuals with housing and support. In Edmonton there are currently over 4,000 homeless individuals who receive some sort of housing and support. These numbers do not include individuals who are still seeking out housing and support.
According to Alberta’s department of human services, there are many degrees of homelessness, ranging from episodic--a person who is homeless for less than a year--to chronic--a person who has been chronically homes for a year or more. What causes a person to be homeless can be traced to myriad reasons: eviction, loss of income, increase in housing costs, no housing after being discharged from an institution, fleeing from violence, irreparable damage to a home, mental health etc.
Alberta’s has a ten-year, strategic plan that tackles the sources of homelessness, according to each of Alberta’s needs. The plan began in 2011, and immediately received countrywide support, winning a Canadian Award for Excellence in 2011.
However, individuals who are homeless tend to avoid certain dehumanizing services. In this provider-receiver relationship, individuals are often objectified and continually reminded of their abject status. So models of help that respect the dignity of the homeless--like Indian Fusion’s--are a necessary alternative.
There are restaurants across North America that participate in food drives that donate 190,000 pounds of food to ministries and local agencies each week. There are even some restaurants that participate in Homeless Restaurant Week. But Indian Fusion is different. Their vow to serve those who are jobless, homeless and/or hungry does not last for just one special week and homeless patrons are not relegated to eat outside or in some back room. At Indian Fusion, all patrons dine together at any time of the year.
If someone needs a good meal, they simply knock on the door and choose either a vegetarian or non-vegetarian meal of the day plus a drink, and instead of being given food outside, they are invited in, given a table and are served by a waiter.
Every person will experience some sort of hardship that cannot be overcome without the help of others. Parkash Chhibber and his family understand this wholeheartedly.